Bill of rights needed for foreign domestic workers

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Caram Asia is recommending a comprehensive bill of rights for domestic workers at the international level that can be modelled at the national levels.

Photo credit: freemarket.my

In most countries, foreign domestic workers do not have weekly days off, fixed hours of work nor rest periods and other basic labour rights.

These workers who are called maids, helpers or servants may see a ray of hope if a new international standard of rights for domestic workers (DW) are voted in during the International Labour Conference (ILC) in Geneva from 1-17 June 2011.

CARAM Asia, a regional network of NGOs and migrant workers associations in Asia, calls upon ILO members to support a robust and comprehensive content for the ILO Domestic Workers Convention supplemented by recommendation.

Governments should recognise the contribution of FDWs by legislating comprehensive protection for domestic workers.

Very few countries in the world have comprehensive legislation to protect the rights of foreign domestic workers (FDWs). In most countries, FDWs are not even recognised as workers with labour rights.

In 2010, CARAM Asia concluded a comparative research between 262 Hong Kong employers and 283 Malaysian employers. The research found that proper laws, recognition through regulations and effective enforcement of laws tend to bring positive perceptions and understanding of FDWs.

Therefore, we recommend a comprehensive bill of rights for domestic workers at the international level that can be modelled at the national levels.

CARAM Asia is NGO in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations. It is an open network of NGOs and CBOs, consisting of 38 members covering 18 countries in Asia and the Middle East. The CARAM Asia network is involved in action research, advocacy and capacity building with the aim to promote and protect the health rights of Asian migrant workers globally. Visit www.caramasia.org for more information on CARAM Asia.

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