A UN report has revealed that millions of domestic workers around the world are not protected under general labour laws and are highly vulnerable to exploitation.
The United Nations report released on Wednesday says more than 52 million people worldwide are employed as domestic workers. While a substantial number are men working as gardeners, drivers or butlers, 80 per cent of them are women.
It adds that of the 52 million domestic workers, only 10 per cent are covered by labour laws to the same extent as other workers, and more than one quarter are completely excluded from national labour legislation.
“Domestic workers are frequently expected to work longer hours than other workers and in many countries do not have the same rights to weekly rest that are enjoyed by other workers,” said the Deputy Director-General of the UN International Labour Organization (ILO), Sandra Polaski.
“Combined with the lack of rights, the extreme dependency on an employer and the isolated and unprotected nature of domestic work can render them vulnerable to exploitation and abuse,” she added.
This disparity in conditions translates in longer, more unpredictable working hours with no appropriate remuneration for domestic workers, rendering them highly vulnerable economically, as well as affecting their health.
The report states that more than half of all domestic workers have no limitation on their weekly normal hours of work and about 45 per cent have no entitlement to weekly rest periods or paid annual leave. In countries such as Qatar, Namibia, Tanzania and Saudi Arabia, the average hours of domestic workers range from 60 to 65 per week, largely surpassing the statutory limits set by virtually all countries of 40 to 48 hours per week.