4 October 2014


It is estimated that there are 50–100 million domestic workers in the world – mainly girls and women, employed to do tasks such as cooking, cleaning and caring for children or elderly people. Workers like these are often poor and are living outside their home country.

This makes them particularly vulnerable to abuse and exploitation, especially because they are isolated and find it difficult to get support when they need it.

A convention came into force on 5 September 2013 that gives employees basic rights, including days off each week, set hours and the minimum wage. Eight countries have ratified the convention (Bolivia, Italy, Mauritius, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Philippines, South Africa and Uruguay), and more are likely to do so soon, including Costa Rica, Germany and Switzerland. A number of countries  (Venezuela, Bahrain, the Philippines, Thailand, Spain and Singapore) have already passed new laws improving the rights of domestic workers, whilst legislative reforms have begun in Finland, Namibia, Chile and the United States. 

The convention is the result of years of campaigning by groups including Human Rights Watch and Anti-Slavery International. These groups say that the campaign and the resulting convention have improved conditions for domestic workers beyond the countries that have signed.

For more information visit the website of the International Labor Organisation (ILO)

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