Domestic workers are human too
In addition to the introduction of the minimum wage for domestic workers, the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare says it has come up with recommendations to ensure that domestic workers get fair treatment from their employers.
The ministry recommends that the entry level into domestic work shall be the age of 18, subject to exceptions promulgated by the Minister in the Wage Order or by regulation, the employer must provide to non-live in domestic workers, a transport allowance equivalent to round trip public transport fares, where public transport is available, unless the employer provides transport.
Other recommendations by the ministry include that HIV and pregnancy tests be voluntary, and that every domestic worker must be provided with a standard written employment contract in English and should be explained in a language that the employee understands.
The ministry also said it will introduce a code of conduct for domestic workers and employers which will be published together with the Wage Order as a Code of Good Practice in terms of Section 137 of the Labour Act, 2007. The Code of Conduct shall address issues of duties and obligations of both employers and employees as well as work ethics. The Code of Conduct is expected to be ready in February 2015.
Domestic workers’ rights to adequate working conditions come after the International Labour Organisation adopted in 2011 Convention 189 and Recommendation 200 on Decent Work for domestic workers to recognize the widespread exploitation and abuse of domestic workers in many countries world wide and to cater to the need to accord to domestic workers the same rights and protections as other employees and the unique character of domestic employment.
Special Advisor to the Minister of Labour and Social Welfare Advocate Vicki Erenstein ya Toivo announced that the ministry is looking to introduce a telephonic communication system whereby the domestic workers and the employers of domestic workers can phone the ministry for information and assistance.
The ministry is in the process of developing health and safety regulations for domestic work and also intends to embark on an extensive public awareness campaign to introduce the new measures, to underscore the importance of domestic work, and to promote good relations between domestic workers and their employers.