Domestic workers, in check by the coronavirus

June 17, 2020
Economic Affairs

More than 55 million domestic employees, of which 37 million are women, face a difficult situation due to the physical distancing measures imposed by the pandemic. Added to this is a structural problem in the sector: the lack of effective social security coverage. Many of these workers have now been exposed to abuse by employers and even human traffickers.

Almost three-quarters of the world’s domestic workers, more than 55 million people, are at significant risk of losing their jobs and income due to lockdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and lack of effective coverage of social security in the sector, according to the International Labor Organization.

The vast majority of these workers, 37 million, are women.

Data for June indicate that the most affected region is Southeast Asia and the Pacific, where 76% of domestic workers are at risk; followed by the Americas, with 74%; Africa, with 72%; and Europe with 45%.

In this sector, the crisis has affected both people whose employment is formal and those who work informally, but the latter represent 76% of those who may lose their job or hours of work.

In countries with stricter confinement measures, those who perform domestic work, whether or not they are formally employed or not, cannot or cannot go to work.

Thus, some of people who have a formal job have been entitled to unemployment insurance, but this has not been the case of those who work in an informal situation, for whom immobilization has meant the loss of livelihoods, not having a backup safety net, and being in trouble when putting food on table.

“The COVID-19 crisis has highlighted the particular vulnerability of informal domestic workers, and the pressing need to be effectively included in the field of labor and social protectionClaire Hobden of the International Labor Organization says.

Women, the most affected

Only 10% of people who are engaged in domestic work are covered by social security, which is equivalent to the fact that others do not have the right to paid sick leave, guaranteed access to health care, benefits for occupational injuries, or unemployment insurance. Many of these people perceive a pay of no more than 25% of the median salary, so they lack savings with which to face a financial emergency.

“The number of women affected is disproportionate, since they are the vast majority of those who carry out this activity in the world,” explains Hobden.

Also, in some regions, domestic workers are predominantly immigrants who count on their pay to support the family in the country of origin. Both the non-payment of wages and the closure of remittance services have put the families of these women at risk of hunger and poverty.

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HELLO HOW ARE YOU. Patel
Domestic worker in India

New abuses and risks

Those who lived in the workplace have generally continued to work in lockdown with their employers. However, it is known that they have worked more hours because of the closing of schools, and that they are doing more demanding cleaning tasks.

In other cases, the employers themselves have been in financial difficulties and have stopped paying those they have working at home, or even They have stopped paying them claiming that they do not need the salary because they cannot leave.

In some countries, it has been the case of immigrants who performed domestic work and lived in the employer’s home, and who have been found on the street after the employer got rid of them for fear of contracting the virus, leaving them exposed to human trafficking.

The International Labor Organization is in contact with trade union and employer organizations to ensure the health and livelihood of these people. It also assesses the level and type of risks they face, so that governments can formulate policies that guarantee at least basic social security coverage, and so that they have access to essential health care and basic income security.

Ninth anniversary of the sector agreement

Twenty-nine countries have ratified Convention No. 189 on decent work for domestic workers, adopted nine years ago by the International Labor Conference.

Many more have adopted concrete measures to extend the coverage of labor and social protection to these people. The ILO has helped some six countries to solve coverage deficits.

These measures have increased the number of domestic workers in formal employment, but the overall percentage of informality remains high.

For this reason, the International Labor Organization calls for urgently accelerate initiatives to formalize domestic work in order to protect those who work in this sector from future crises.

June 17, 2020
Economic Affairs

More than 55 million domestic employees, of which 37 million are women, face a difficult situation due to the physical distancing measures imposed by the pandemic. Added to this is a structural problem in the sector: the lack of effective social security coverage. Many of these workers have now been exposed to abuse by employers and even human traffickers.

Almost three-quarters of the world’s domestic workers, more than 55 million people, are at significant risk of losing their jobs and income due to lockdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and lack of effective coverage of social security in the sector, according to the International Labor Organization.

The vast majority of these workers, 37 million, are women.

Data for June indicate that the most affected region is Southeast Asia and the Pacific, where 76% of domestic workers are at risk; followed by the Americas, with 74%; Africa, with 72%; and Europe with 45%.

In this sector, the crisis has affected both people whose employment is formal and those who work informally, but the latter represent 76% of those who may lose their job or hours of work.

In countries with stricter confinement measures, those who perform domestic work, whether or not they are formally employed or not, cannot or cannot go to work.

Thus, some of people who have a formal job have been entitled to unemployment insurance, but this has not been the case of those who work in an informal situation, for whom immobilization has meant the loss of livelihoods, not having a backup safety net, and being in trouble when putting food on table.

“The COVID-19 crisis has highlighted the particular vulnerability of informal domestic workers, and the pressing need to be effectively included in the field of labor and social protectionClaire Hobden of the International Labor Organization says.

Women, the most affected

Only 10% of people who are engaged in domestic work are covered by social security, which is equivalent to the fact that others do not have the right to paid sick leave, guaranteed access to health care, benefits for occupational injuries, or unemployment insurance. Many of these people perceive a pay of no more than 25% of the median salary, so they lack savings with which to face a financial emergency.

“The number of women affected is disproportionate, since they are the vast majority of those who carry out this activity in the world,” explains Hobden.

Also, in some regions, domestic workers are predominantly immigrants who count on their pay to support the family in the country of origin. Both the non-payment of wages and the closure of remittance services have put the families of these women at risk of hunger and poverty.

[Descarga nuestra aplicación Noticias ONU para IOS o Android. O subscríbete a nuestro boletín.]

HELLO HOW ARE YOU. Patel
Domestic worker in India

New abuses and risks

Those who lived in the workplace have generally continued to work in lockdown with their employers. However, it is known that they have worked more hours because of the closing of schools, and that they are doing more demanding cleaning tasks.

In other cases, the employers themselves have been in financial difficulties and have stopped paying those they have working at home, or even They have stopped paying them claiming that they do not need the salary because they cannot leave.

In some countries, it has been the case of immigrants who performed domestic work and lived in the employer’s home, and who have been found on the street after the employer got rid of them for fear of contracting the virus, leaving them exposed to human trafficking.

The International Labor Organization is in contact with trade union and employer organizations to ensure the health and livelihood of these people. It also assesses the level and type of risks they face, so that governments can formulate policies that guarantee at least basic social security coverage, and so that they have access to essential health care and basic income security.

Ninth anniversary of the sector agreement

Twenty-nine countries have ratified Convention No. 189 on decent work for domestic workers, adopted nine years ago by the International Labor Conference.

Many more have adopted concrete measures to extend the coverage of labor and social protection to these people. The ILO has helped some six countries to solve coverage deficits.

These measures have increased the number of domestic workers in formal employment, but the overall percentage of informality remains high.

For this reason, the International Labor Organization calls for urgently accelerate initiatives to formalize domestic work in order to protect those who work in this sector from future crises.