Domestic Workers: On-line action to urge ratification of the Domestic Workers Convention

Summary: CRIN is part of a campaign to encourage governments to ratify the Domestic Workers Convention. Adopted by the International Labour Organisation in 2011, this unprecedented Convention will help protect children currently working as domestic workers and, ultimately, to eliminate child domestic labour.


MENU: About child domestic workers / The Convention / Take action / Resources and links


About child domestic workers

The International Labour Organization (ILO) estimates that 15.5 million children are engaged in domestic work, making up nearly 30 per cent of all domestic workers worldwide. They can be as young as four or five years old and their work can be paid or unpaid. They work generally very long hours and the types of domestic work they do include cooking, cleaning, washing, looking after their employer’s children and running errands. Many child domestic workers are girls because domestic work is traditionally considered to be the responsibility of girls and women.

Some of the key issues affecting the rights of child domestic workers include:

- A child employed in domestic work has less access to education. A recent Human Rights Watch investigation in Indonesia found that only one of 45 child domestic workers interviewed was attending school.

- Child domestic workers are more isolated whilst working in private homes, which leaves them at particular risk of exploitation and violence, including sexual abuse.

- 52% of all child domestic workers are found to be working in hazardous domestic work.

- Child domestic labourers are often working in conditions of slavery with little or no choice of movement and limited contact with their families.


The Domestic Workers Convention

Following concerted efforts by advocates to provide protection for domestic workers, including children, the ILO Domestic Workers Convention (Convention 189 concerning Decent Work for Domestic Workers) was adopted in June 2011, providing the first global standards to protect all domestic workers. This Convention will help to protect children currently working as domestic workers and, ultimately, to eliminate child domestic labour.

This new Convention complements the provisions of the ILO Child Labour Conventions: Convention No. 138 on Minimum Age and Convention No. 182 on the Worst Forms of Child Labour.

The Convention obliges governments:

- To take specific steps to eliminate child labour in domestic work;

- To set a minimum age for domestic work in line with international standards (usually age 15), and ensure that work by children above that age does not deprive them of schooling;

- To ensure that domestic workers who are old enough to legally work are entitled to the same rights as other workers, including daily rest and weekly days off, limits to hours of work, minimum wage coverage and overtime compensation.

Currently, only seven countries have ratified the Convention (Bolivia, Italy, Mauritius, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Philippines and Uruguay) and we need your help to ensure more countries do so. Ratification will help in two ways: as an immediate step, it will extend basic labour rights to the estimated 15.5 million children currently working as domestic workers worldwide, thus providing them with stronger employment and legal protection; and in the long-term, it will ensure governments take measures to eliminate child domestic labour.


Take action

- Encourage your government to announce its ratification or make a pledge to ratify at the October 2013 Brazil World Conference on Child Labour. See a sample letter here.

(Read the NGO letter sent to Ministers of Labour, which CRIN co-signed, urging governments to ratify the Convention) 

- Join the ‘12 by 12’ campaign, now active in 92 countries, to push for domestic workers’ rights. The campaign was launched by the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) to seek 12 ratifications of the Convention in 2012, and continues to organise worldwide.

- Write to your Member of Parliament, to educate them about child domestic labour and to urge support for ratification of the Convention.


Resources and links

- Domestic Workers Convention No. 189

- Human Rights Watch: 'Protect 15 Million Child Domestic Workers'

- New HRW advocacy brochure on the Domestic Workers Convention

- Background on the child domestic work and the ILO Convention: Part 1 and Part 2

- Map showing progress for domestic workers

- Global March against Child Labour: campaign on child domestic labour

- New ILO report on child domestic work


    Please note that these reports are hosted by CRIN as a resource for Child Rights campaigners, researchers and other interested parties. Unless otherwise stated, they are not the work of CRIN and their inclusion in our database does not necessarily signify endorsement or agreement with their content by CRIN.