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ILO Convention Brings Equal Rights for Domestic Workers in Brazil

Posted on the 09 April 2013 by Angelicolaw @AngelicoLaw

Brazil ratified ILO Convention 189 and now 6.5 million domestic workers are covered by a new law giving them equal rights with other workers.

A constitutional amendment guaranteeing equal rights for domestic workers in Brazil comes into force on 2 April.

The constitutional amendment establishes 16 new rights for domestic workers, such as the right to overtime pay, a maximum 8 hour working day and 44 hour working week.

Some of the changes will come into force immediately and others will have to be regularized, including a new provision whereby employers will pay the equivalent of 8 per cent of their monthly salary into a fund that will be made available upon compulsory redundancy, death and other contingencies.

Domestic workers’ trade unions in Brazil have been pushing for reforms in the law for many years.

Argentina also passed a bill in March, which limits working hours and ensures paid annual and maternity leave for domestic workers. In February, the Indian Parliament passed legislation that included domestic workers in an attempt to eradicate sexual harassment at work.

Since the ILO Convention’s adoption, a total of 9 countries have passed new laws or regulations improving domestic workers’ labour and social rights, including Venezuela, Bahrain, the Philippines, Thailand, Spain and Singapore. Legislative reforms have also begun in Finland, Namibia, Chile and the United States, among others.

So far 4 countries have ratified ILO Convention 189 – Uruguay, Philippines, Mauritius and Italy. Several other countries have initiated the process of ratification, including South Africa, Costa Rica and Germany.

The European Commission is also pressing EU countries to implement the ILO Convention and has called for safeguards to protect young domestic workers.

According to an ILO study from January 2013, entitled Domestic Workers Across the World, at least 52 million people around the world – mainly women – are employed as domestic workers. At the time of the research, only 10 per cent were covered by general labour legislation to the same extent as other workers. More than one quarter were completely excluded from national labour legislation.

ILO Convention 189

Domestic workers who care for families and households must have the same basic labour rights as other workers. Theserights include:

  • Reasonable working hours,
  • Weekly rest of at least 24 consecutive hours,
  • A limit on in-kind payment,
  • Clear information on terms and conditions of employment,
  • Respect for fundamental principles and rights at work, including freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining.

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