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Domestic Workers: Size, Contributions & Challenges   
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According to the International Labour Organisation  (ILO), “tens of millions” of domestic workers provide essential services that enable others to work outside their homes. Thus domestic workers help keep labour markets and economies working around the globe.

Most, though not all, domestic workers are women. The vast majority are from the poorer sections of society (ILO 2007).

What domestic workers do

Domestic workers work in the homes of others for pay, providing a range of services: they sweep and clean; wash clothes and dishes; shop and cook; care for children, the elderly, and the disabled; they provide gardening, driving, and security services. Some live on the premises of their employer. Others work part time, often for multiple employers.

Women are concentrated in cleaning and care services, while men tend to have the better paying jobs as gardeners, drivers, or security guards.

Domestic work is a large – and in some countries growing – sector of employment, especially for women. The latest conservative estimates find the number of domestic workers increased from 33.2 million in 1995 to 52.6 million in 2010 – or 3.6 per cent of global wage employment .

(However, since domestic workers are undercounted in labour force surveys, the number could be far higher.

In 2010, domestic work was  the highest as a percentage of total employment in Latin America and the Caribbean (7.6 per cent) followed by the Middle East (5.6 per cent).

Women’s work

Women accounted for about 83 per cent of counted domestic workers in 2010. As a percentage of women’s wage employment, as of total wage employment, the greatest proportions were found in Latin America and the Caribbean and the Middle East.

Domestic work is also a major employer of women in Asia and Africa, according to ILO. In the Middle East, one out of three women wage employees is domestic worker, and in Latin America and the Caribbean, the figure is one in four. However, in only a few countries are more than 1 per cent of men employed in domestic service.

Domestic workers tend to have lower wages, fewer benefits, and less legal or social protections compared to most other wage workers, with the probable exception of casual day labourers and industrial outworkers. Very few domestic workers have labour contracts. They usually have no maternity leave, health care or pension provision.

In many countries they are excluded from labour law and social security protection, or inferior standards apply. Even where protective laws are on the statute books, they are frequently ignored by employers and not enforced by authorities. An ILO report examining legislation for domestic workers in over 60 countries noted that, “Regardless of the manner in which domestic work is regulated by national laws, standards on domestic work fall below labour standards set for other categories of workers”
Source: Today Newspaper

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