The Deliberations at the ILC on the Convention for Domestic Work have come to a close. After deliberations that lasted until 9:30pm last night, and continued into this morning, the International Labour Conference’s Committee on Domestic Work adopted the text of the Recommendation to supplement the Convention on Domestic Work. This marks the end of 2 weeks of deliberations on this landmark Convention and Recommendation that provide labour rights for domestic workers for the first time.
This Recommendation provides governments with clarification and guidance on measures they can take to implement the Convention, with details that go beyond that which is stated in the Convention text. Because the Recommendation is non-binding in the legal sense, it came as a surprise that the tripartite debates were so intense, as the employers’ group and some governments introduced amendments that would serve to water down the interpretation of the Convention. This reveals the extent of the continuing challenge for domestic workers and their advocates in the months and years ahead.
The Recommendation stipulates some important means of protection for domestic workers and migrant domestic workers. It covers an array of issues of significance for domestic workers, including, among others, advice on how to ensure the following:
• protection against deduction of wages of the cost of supplies used in domestic work;
• provision of proper pay slips with payments and deductions clearly elaborated;
• cultural sensitivity in terms of living and working arrangements, food, time off, etc.;
• appropriate identification, mitigation, and prevention of occupational hazards;
• the portability of social security contributions and the reflection of in-kind payments in these schemes;
• awareness-raising of employers vis-à-vis their obligations through the provision of information on good practices.
Before becoming international law, the Convention and Recommendation texts, as approved by the Committee on Domestic Work, will be voted on by the ILO members and 2 member states must ratify. The vote will take place on June 16th, and as such, MFA members are continuing to lobby their governments to secure their support, and to push them towards ratification and implementation.