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55 million domestic workers could lose jobs due to Covid-19: ILO

37 million of them are women, and those employed in the informal sector are at greater risk

Sabrangindia 18 Jun 2020

LockdownImage Courtesy:economictimes.indiatimes.com

The International Labour Organisation (ILO) estimates that nearly three-quarters of domestic workers across the world, or around 55 million people, are at a significant risk of losing their jobs and income due to lockdown and lack of effective social security coverage. A vast majority of them, around 37 million, are women.

According to the ILO, “An assessment made at the beginning of June shows that the most affected region was Southeast Asia and the Pacific, with 76 per cent of domestic workers at risk, followed by the Americas (74 per cent) Africa (72 per cent) and Europe (45 per cent).” This means Indian domestic workers are some of the most vulnerable people in the world.

According to a report titled, Impact of the COVID-19 crisis on loss of jobs and hours among domestic workers, “The ILO estimates that, in the early stages of the pandemic, on 15 March, 49.3 per cent of domestic workers were significantly impacted. This figure peaked at 73.7 per cent on 15 May, before reducing to 72.3 per cent on 4 June.”

Claire Hobden, ILO Technical Officer, Vulnerable Workers, says, “The COVID-19 crisis has exposed the particular vulnerability of informal domestic workers, emphasizing the urgent need to ensure they are effectively included in labour and social protection. This disproportionately affects women who make up the vast majority of domestic workers worldwide.”

The ILO is working with domestic workers’ organizations and employers’ organizations to ensure the health and livelihoods of domestic workers. Twenty-nine countries have ratified ILO Convention 189 on decent work for domestic workers, which was adopted nine years ago by the International Labour Conference. Interestingly, India is not among them. Domestic workers face class and caste-based discrimination across India, with many of them given separate untensils in households that still practice varying degrees of untouchability, despite it being outlawed.

According to ILO’s global estimates, “Only 10 per cent of domestic workers have access to social security, meaning no paid sick leave, guaranteed access to health care, employment injury benefits or unemployment insurance. Many domestic workers earn as little as 25 per cent of average wages, leaving them without savings in case of a financial emergency.”

The ILO found that migrant workers whose salaries supported their families in their countries of origin were hit hard. There has also been an increase in exploitation of domestic workers who live with their employer’s families. The ILO says, “Live-in domestic workers have mostly continued to work, in confinement with their employers. However, reports suggest they have worked longer hours due to school closures and are carrying out more demanding cleaning tasks. In other cases, employers have stopped paying their live-in domestic workers, due to their own financial circumstances or a belief that domestic workers do not need their salaries since they cannot go out.” But in another chilling discovery, the ILO found, “In some countries, where migrant domestic workers are required to live with their employers, some have been found on the streets after their employers dismissed them for fear of catching the virus. This puts them at risk of trafficking.”

The entire report may be read here:

Related:

1.6 billion informal economy workers significantly impacted by lockdown measures: ILO
India may beat Covid-19, but will it recover from the unemployment spiral?
Covid-19 pandemic has cost one in six young people their jobs: ILO
Covid-19 impact: Child Labour likely to increase

55 million domestic workers could lose jobs due to Covid-19: ILO

37 million of them are women, and those employed in the informal sector are at greater risk

LockdownImage Courtesy:economictimes.indiatimes.com

The International Labour Organisation (ILO) estimates that nearly three-quarters of domestic workers across the world, or around 55 million people, are at a significant risk of losing their jobs and income due to lockdown and lack of effective social security coverage. A vast majority of them, around 37 million, are women.

According to the ILO, “An assessment made at the beginning of June shows that the most affected region was Southeast Asia and the Pacific, with 76 per cent of domestic workers at risk, followed by the Americas (74 per cent) Africa (72 per cent) and Europe (45 per cent).” This means Indian domestic workers are some of the most vulnerable people in the world.

According to a report titled, Impact of the COVID-19 crisis on loss of jobs and hours among domestic workers, “The ILO estimates that, in the early stages of the pandemic, on 15 March, 49.3 per cent of domestic workers were significantly impacted. This figure peaked at 73.7 per cent on 15 May, before reducing to 72.3 per cent on 4 June.”

Claire Hobden, ILO Technical Officer, Vulnerable Workers, says, “The COVID-19 crisis has exposed the particular vulnerability of informal domestic workers, emphasizing the urgent need to ensure they are effectively included in labour and social protection. This disproportionately affects women who make up the vast majority of domestic workers worldwide.”

The ILO is working with domestic workers’ organizations and employers’ organizations to ensure the health and livelihoods of domestic workers. Twenty-nine countries have ratified ILO Convention 189 on decent work for domestic workers, which was adopted nine years ago by the International Labour Conference. Interestingly, India is not among them. Domestic workers face class and caste-based discrimination across India, with many of them given separate untensils in households that still practice varying degrees of untouchability, despite it being outlawed.

According to ILO’s global estimates, “Only 10 per cent of domestic workers have access to social security, meaning no paid sick leave, guaranteed access to health care, employment injury benefits or unemployment insurance. Many domestic workers earn as little as 25 per cent of average wages, leaving them without savings in case of a financial emergency.”

The ILO found that migrant workers whose salaries supported their families in their countries of origin were hit hard. There has also been an increase in exploitation of domestic workers who live with their employer’s families. The ILO says, “Live-in domestic workers have mostly continued to work, in confinement with their employers. However, reports suggest they have worked longer hours due to school closures and are carrying out more demanding cleaning tasks. In other cases, employers have stopped paying their live-in domestic workers, due to their own financial circumstances or a belief that domestic workers do not need their salaries since they cannot go out.” But in another chilling discovery, the ILO found, “In some countries, where migrant domestic workers are required to live with their employers, some have been found on the streets after their employers dismissed them for fear of catching the virus. This puts them at risk of trafficking.”

The entire report may be read here:

Related:

1.6 billion informal economy workers significantly impacted by lockdown measures: ILO
India may beat Covid-19, but will it recover from the unemployment spiral?
Covid-19 pandemic has cost one in six young people their jobs: ILO
Covid-19 impact: Child Labour likely to increase

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