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REPORT: Domestic Workers Lack Protections Around the World

January 14, 2013

At least 52 million people comprise the global domestic workforce, including several million home care workers, according to a report by the International Labour Organization (ILO).

The workforce is predominantly female, with women making up an estimated 83 percent of domestic workers around the world, ILO researchers report.

The report represents the first large-scale attempt to quantify the global domestic workforce, the ILO says.

Basic Protections Missing

Despite its sheer size, the domestic workforce generally lacks basic labor protections throughout the world.

Among the report’s findings on domestic workers:

  • Nearly 30 percent are specifically excluded from basic labor protections in their country
  • Only 10 percent are covered by general labor laws to the extent of other workers in their country
  • 45 percent do not receive weekly rest periods and/or paid annual leave
  • More than one-third of female domestic workers have no maternity protection

Domestic workers are “especially vulnerable to abusive practices, such as physical and sexual violence, psychological abuse, non-payment of wages, debt bondage, and abusive living and working conditions,” according to an ILO press release.

In the U.S., home care workers remain excluded from federal minimum-wage and overtime protections, despite President Obama‘s December 2011 promise to put an end to that exemption.

— by Matthew Ozga

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