Domestic Worker Rights

Kenya, domestic workers, ILO Convention 189, Solidarity Center

The Solidarity Center joins with unions in Kenya and around the world in championing ratification of the ILO global treaty Convention 189 covering domestic worker rights. Credit: KUDHEIHA

Millions of domestic workers are employed in countries where they are excluded from national labor laws, including limits to working hours, minimum wage and overtime pay. Domestic workers, who are predominantly women and sometimes children, toil invisibly in private homes. Some live on their employer’s premises where, away from the public eye, they often are subject to abuse. Nearly one in five domestic workers are international migrants.

The Solidarity Center supports unions around the world as they assist domestic workers in gaining their rights on the job such as in Honduras and Ukraine, where workers formed the first domestic workers union in their countries with the assistance of Solidarity Center partners.

Together with the International Domestic Workers Federation (IDWF) and the U.S.-based National Domestic Workers Alliance, the Solidarity Center supports leadership, gender equality and rights-based training for domestic workers to strengthen their ability to advocate for improved wages and working conditions.

Many domestic workers migrate for jobs to the Gulf countries and the Middle East, and the Solidarity Center works to advance their rights with union partners in origin and destination countries, such as the Kuwait Trade Union Federation (KTUF), which launched a migrant worker office that assists domestic workers and other migrant workers experiencing wage theft and other forms of exploitation.

The Solidarity Center, which joined with unions and rights organizations in championing passage of the 2011 International Labor Organization’s global treaty (Convention 189) covering domestic worker rights, assists unions in pushing for adoption of the treaty in their countries to ensure domestic work is legally recognized and valued. The Solidarity Center also supports domestic worker unions achieve labor rights in countries such as Mexico, where union partners won the right to written contracts and a ban on employing workers younger than age 15.

Ukraine: Domestic Workers Win As President Signs New Law

Soon after organizing to advocate for formal recognition as workers and protections at work, domestic workers in Ukraine won a significant victory when President Volodymyr Zelenskyy signed a new law on May 22 regulating domestic work and affording new protections to...

Ukraine: Domestic Workers Organize for Recognition, Dignity

In a first for Ukraine, in-home childcare workers including nannies and babysitters organized and then elected domestic worker Tetiana Lauhina to head their new labor organization, Union of Home Staff (UHS). "[My colleagues] are amazingly hard-working and...

UKRAINE: DOMESTIC WORKER SURVEY DOCUMENTS PERILS OF INFORMAL STATUS

A new survey—the first in Ukraine to evaluate domestic workers’ working conditions—found that working without contracts and formal recognition has left most survey respondents victim to low pay, wage theft, confusion about employment status, exclusion from the...
Myrtle Witbooi: A Clear Vision of Justice for Domestic Workers

Myrtle Witbooi: A Clear Vision of Justice for Domestic Workers

Solidarity Center
Solidarity Center
Myrtle Witbooi: A Clear Vision of Justice for Domestic Workers



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‘We Are Invisible People’: Kyrgyz Migrant Domestic Worker

‘We Are Invisible People’: Kyrgyz Migrant Domestic Worker

A study conducted by Insan-Leilek, a Kyrgyz migrant worker foundation, and the Trade Union of Migrants of the Kyrgyz Republic documents abuses suffered by many who migrate to Russia to earn their livelihoods as nannies, adult caregivers, cooks, cleaners and live-in...

Experts: Domestic Violence a Societal Hazard for Informal Workers

Experts: Domestic Violence a Societal Hazard for Informal Workers

Informal workers are routinely excluded from economic and political decision-making, and their work is systematically devalued and made invisible. The COVID-19 pandemic has only intensified these dynamics and has resulted in skyrocketing rates of domestic violence,...

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