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Domestic workers in Asia worst off, says ILO report

Publication Date : 10-01-2013


The largest number of domestic workers—21.5 million—are employed in the Asia-Pacific region and 80 per cent of them are women, according to a report released by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) yesterday.

The domestic work sector employs more than 3 per cent of all paid employees in the region. According to the “Domestic workers across the world” report, there were 52.6 million domestic workers across the world at the end of 2010. They cook, clean and take care of a myriad of other daily duties in households.

About 8.9 million men are employed by private households, typically as gardeners, chauffeurs or security guards.

Of these, 21.5 million (41 per cent) domestic workers are in Asia-Pacific and 19.6 million (37 per cent) in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Despite the significant numbers of people involved, there are large differences between the rights and conditions experienced by domestic employees and other waged workers, particularly in Asia.

Only 3 per cent of Asia’s domestic workers are entitled to a weekly day of rest, whereas globally more than half of domestic workers have this right.

Only 1 per cent of domestic workers in Asia-Pacific have statutory limits to their normal maximum weekly working hours, while more than three-quarters of their counterparts in Latin America enjoy such protection.

For maternity leave and maternity cash benefits, 76 per cent of Asia-Pacific’s domestic workers have no entitlement. In Latin America all such workers qualify for maternity leave and a large majority for related benefits.

The report says that the number of domestic workers has grown significantly in 15 years from 33.2 million in 1995.

Within Asia, the largest numbers of domestic workers are in India (4.2 million), Indonesia (2.4 million) and the Philippines (1.9 million). The figures exclude an estimated 7.4 million children engaged in domestic work.

The report shows that only 10 per cent of all domestic workers—5.3 million—are covered by general labour legislation to the same extent as other workers. More than one-quarter of employees—29.9 per cent or some 15.7 million—work in countries where they are completely excluded from the scope of national labour legislation.


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