The International Labor Organization [official website] Domestic Workers Convention, 2011 (No. 189) [text] came into force [ILO press release] on Thursday, extending basic labor rights to workers in signatory countries. The convention became binding international law to a number of countries, prompting many to begin implementing legislative reforms aimed at improving domestic workers' labor and social rights. Approximately 53 million workers will be affected by the convention, which gives employees the right to claim basic rights, including days off each week, set hours and a minimum wage. ILO member states Bolivia, Italy, Mauritius, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Philippines, South Africa and Uruguay have already ratified the convention. Costa Rica and Germany have begun the ratification process, while a number of other countries, including the US, have begun implementing labor laws and regulations.
According to a January ILO study [JURIST report], entitled Domestic Workers Across the World [text, PDF], domestic workers working for private households are vulnerable due to a lack of clear terms of employment, as well as their exclusion from labor legislation. Rights of domestic workers has been a controversial issue for years. Last September the Domestic Workers Convention was ratified [JURIST report] by enough countries to qualify to go into force in September 2013. In October 2011 the UN warned Lebanon [JURIST report] specifically that it needed to create more laws to protect rights of domestic workers. In 2010 Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] expressed the same opinion [JURIST report], stating that Lebanon needed to do more to protect domestic workers in its country and prosecute those who violate their rights. HRW also released a statement [JURIST report] in 2008 saying that migrant and domestic workers were facing human rights abuses throughout the Middle East and Asia.