BANGKOK (TrustLaw) – Following ratification by the Philippines on Monday, the Domestic Workers Convention will come into force next year, providing protection and improved working conditions for millions of women and girls, Human Rights Watch (HRW) has said.
The “groundbreaking” international treaty - the first to set global standards for domestic workers - takes effect one year after being ratified by two countries, with Uruguay the first to do so on April 30.
“As the treaty goes into effect, millions of women and girls will have the chance for better working conditions and better lives,” said Nisha Varia, senior women’s rights researcher at HRW.
Exact data is hard to come by, but the New York-based rights group estimates there are between 50 million and 100 million domestic workers around the world. Most are women and girls, many of whom suffer from exploitation and abuse, including long working hours, physical and sexual violence, forced labour and trafficking.
The International Labour Organisation says domestic workers are “undervalued and poorly regulated”. They generally receive low wages and weak protection, with child labourers making up the majority in many countries.
The new treaty stipulates that domestic workers are entitled to weekly days off, limits on work hours, a minimum wage and social security coverage. Governments are also obliged to protect them from violence and abuse, and prevent children undertaking domestic work.
The Philippines has approximately 2 million domestic workers inside the country and millions more abroad, according to HRW.
“Remittances from Filipino migrant domestic workers, mostly women, constitute a significant source of the country’s foreign exchange. Filipinos working abroad send home over $20 billion per year,” the group said in a statement.