(Geneva, June 16, 2011) – The adoption by the International Labor Organization (ILO) on June 16, 2011, of a new, groundbreaking treaty to extend key labor protections to domestic workers will protect millions of people who have been without guarantees of their basic rights, Human Rights Watch said today. Governments, trade unions, and employers’ organizations that make up the ILO overwhelmingly voted to adopt the ILO Convention on Decent Work for Domestic Workers, which establishes the first global standards for the estimated 50 to 100 million domestic workers worldwide, the vast majority of whom are women and girls.
ILO members spent three years developing the convention to address the routine exclusion of domestic workers from labor protections guaranteed to other workers, such as weekly days off, limits to hours of work, and a minimum wage. Domestic workers face a wide range of grave abuses and labor exploitation, including excessive working hours without rest, non-payment of wages, forced confinement, physical and sexual abuse, forced labor, and trafficking.
“Discrimination against women and poor legal protections have allowed abuses against domestic workers to flourish in every corner of the world,” said Nisha Varia, senior women’s rights researcher at Human Rights Watch. “This new convention is a long overdue recognition of housekeepers, nannies, and caregivers as workers who deserve respect and equal treatment under the law.”