The standards system of the ILO moves into the informal economy for the first time

news - 27/06/2011

On Thursday 16 June, a historic set of international standards aimed at improving the working conditions of tens of millions of domestic workers worldwide was adopted at the 100th annual Conference of the International Labour Organization (ILO).

The government, worker and employer delegates at the 100th annual Conference of the ILO decided to bring an estimated 53 to 100 million domestic workers worldwide under the protection of labour standards.

“We are moving the standards system of the ILO into the informal economy for the first time, and this is a breakthrough of great significance”, said Juan Somavia, ILO Director-General. “History is being made.”

Conference delegates adopted the Convention on Domestic Workers (2011) and its accompanying Recommendation. The new ILO standards specify that domestic workers around the world who care for families and households must have the same basic labour rights as those of other workers: reasonable hours of work, weekly rest of at least 24 consecutive hours, a limit on in-kind payment, clear information on terms and conditions of employment, as well as respect for fundamental principles and rights at work, including freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining.

In accordance with ILO procedures, the new Convention will come into force after two countries have ratified it.

Michelle Bachelet, Executive Director of UN Women, in her address to the Conference Committee, said that the deficit of decent work among domestic workers “can no longer be tolerated”, adding that UN Women would support the process of ratification and application of the new ILO instruments.

This important theme will be dealt with at the next “Gender Academy”, a global event on gender, work and employment that will bring together experts and successful practitioners from 21 November to 2 December 2011 on the Turin Centre campus.