Pandemic affected 60 mn workers due to gap in labor & social protection: ILO

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected more than 60 million domestic workers worldwide because of the long-standing gaps in the labour and social protection of the workers, the International Labour Organisation said, calling for an urgent need to formalise the domestic workforce.

“Domestic workers were more vulnerable to the fallout from the pandemic because of long-standing gaps in labour and social protection. This particularly affected the more than 60 million domestic workers in the informal economy,” the ILO said in its report on Tuesday. As per the report, working conditions for many have not improved in a decade and have been made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The report shows job losses among domestic workers ranged from 5-20% in most European countries, as well as Canada and South Africa. In the Americas, the situation was worse, with losses amounting to 25-50% compared to job losses among other employees which were less than 15% in most countries over the same period.

“The crisis has highlighted the urgent need to formalize domestic work to ensure their access to decent work, starting with the extension and implementation of labour and social security laws to all domestic workers,” Guy Ryder, director-general of ILO said. According to the report, since the adoption of the Domestic Workers Convention 2011, there has been some progress in the decrease in the number of domestic workers who are wholly excluded from the scope of labour laws and regulations.

However, a large number of domestic workers (36%) remain wholly excluded from labour laws, pointing to the urgent need to close legal gaps, particularly in Asia and the Pacific and the Arab states, where the gaps are largest, it said. “Even where domestic workers are covered by labour and social protection laws, implementation remains a significant issue of exclusion and informality,” it said. According to the report, only one-in-five (18.8%) domestic workers enjoy effective, employment-related, social protection coverage.

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ILO estimate shows domestic work remains a female-dominated sector, employing 57.7 million women, who account for 76.2% of domestic workers. While women make up the majority of the workforce in Europe and Central Asia and in America, men outnumber women in Arab states (63.4%) and North Africa, and make up just under half of all domestic workers in Southern Asia (42.6%). The vast majority of domestic workers are employed in two regions. About half (38.3 million) can be found in Asia and the Pacific – largely on account of China – while another quarter (17.6 million) are in the Americas.



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