International Organizing

Domestic Workers win Global Recognition with the Adoption of the ILO Convention for Domestic Workers

On June 16, 2011, the 100th International Labour Conference (ILC) in Geneva, Switzerland adopted the First Convention and accompanying Recommendation on Decent Work for Domestic Workers. When the vote was announced, domestic workers unfurled a banner that read “C189: Congratulations! Now for the “domestic work” of governments- RATIFY.” Support for the Convention was overwhelming, with 396 voting in favor, and only 16 voting against (all employers), with an additional 63 abstaining. The Recommendation passed with 90% approval. Press Release »

Since then ten ILO members have ratified C189.

As a member of the International Domestic Workers Federation, the National Domestic Worker Alliance has been organizing with domestic workers around the world to win a strong ILO Convention with the standards and protections this workforce so desperately needs.

Fundamental principles and rights of the ILO that need to be applied to domestic work

  • Right to organize and collectively bargain and highlight related best practices and examples, including acknowledgement of special challenges to collective bargaining for domestic workers
  • Elimination of all forms of forced and compulsory labor;
  • Effective abolition of child labor; and
  • Elimination of discrimination in respect of employment and immigrant/migrant status

Working and living conditions and social security

  • Fair terms of employment as well as decent working conditions and, where applicable, living conditions;
  • Safe and secure workplace; and
  • Social security, including maternity protection, for both full-time and part-time workers with multiple employers
  • Equality with other workers in minimum labor standards and in some instances, establish a higher standard to account for the special conditions facing domestic workers and the inability for domestic workers to collectively bargain under most national labor relations laws.
  • Access to information about rights and organizations that can provide information and support for them as migrants (consulates) and workers (worker rights organizations)
  • Employers should inform domestic/household workers of their terms and conditions of employment, such as the type of work to be performed, including tasks not to be performed; the normal hours of work, etc.
  • Protection against all forms of abuse and harassment, including physical, verbal, sexual and mental abuse and harassment
  • Workers are not bound to remain in the household during the period of daily or weekly rest
  • Periods of standby should be regarded as hours of work to the extent determined by national laws and regulations, collective agreements or any other means consistent with national practice
  • Worker should be in possession of own documents

Employment agencies

  • Workers recruited or placed by employment agencies, particularly migrant domestic/household workers, are effectively protected against abusive practices
  • Make information available to workers about their rights, complaint procedures, and contact information for workers rights groups

Migrant domestic/household workers

  • National laws and regulations should require that migrant domestic/household workers receive a written contract containing minimum terms and conditions of employment that must be agreed upon prior to crossing national borders
  • Migrant domestic/household workers should be entitled to repatriation at no cost on expiry or termination of the employment contract
  • Employers should be prohibited from keeping in their possession domestic workers’ travel and identity documents
  • Countries should cooperate with each other to ensure that migrant domestic/household workers enjoy benefits comparable with those of nationals
  • Workers with cases of abuse or mistreatment should be offered protective immigration status

Implementation and enforcement measures

  • Easy access to fair and effective dispute settlement procedures
  • Easy access to effective government agencies that enforce their rights
  • Resources and capacity for enforcement of existing laws
  • Implementation and enforcement should be done in partnership with domestic worker organizations