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Better regulations needed for domestic helpers

Thuy Dung
Thursday,  Oct 12,2017,18:24 (GMT+7)
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Better regulations needed for domestic helpers

Thuy Dung

HANOI – The number of domestic workers at home and abroad has been on the rise. However, regulations meant to protect their legitimate rights and interests are insufficient.

A report of the International Labour Organization (ILO) shows there are at least 67 million domestic helpers all over the world, of whom around 21 million are based in Asia-Pacific. A majority of domestic workers are women, making up over 80%. They have contributed significantly to economic growth in host countries.

But at households, contract terms of employment are unclear, unregistered and not governed by labor legislation. As a result, they are vulnerable to exploitation and abuse.

Doan Mau Diep, Deputy Minister of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs, said at a national preparatory meeting for the 10th ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) Forum on Migrant Labor on Monday that the forum would find ways to protect the legitimate rights and interests of laborers, and help them have secure jobs and gain access to social security.

The growing Vietnamese middle class has stronger demand for domestic helpers. The Vietnamese Government has made great strides in strengthening the protection of domestic workers through the 2012 Labor Code and Decree 27/2014/ND-CP guiding the execution of the Labor Code.

These documents provide regulations relevant to minimum wages, insurance premiums, minimum rest periods, and annual leave for workers in this group.

The nation is also considering ratifying the ILO’s Convention on Domestic Workers (Convention 189) by 2020.

Ngo Thi Ngoc Anh from the Research Center for Gender, Family and Community Development said domestic workers at home and abroad are facing a slew of challenges despite the presence of relevant regulations.
In Vietnam, those working abroad do not benefit from social security schemes such as insurance for occupational accidents and diseases, health insurance and unemployment allowances.

International migrant workers do not have access to social security as native citizens do given the lack of general standards for qualification, professionalism and technical capability.

Anh stressed these legal gaps put the rights and interests of domestic workers at stake when they work overseas.

Nguyen Thi Anh Hang, a member of the Overseas Labor Department under the ministry, shared the same view, saying Vietnamese domestic workers in Taiwan, Macau, Saudi Arabia, and Cyprus are not mentioned in regulations of these receiving territories and countries. Therefore, they are not protected by law.

The settlement of cases related to domestic workers is quite difficult, she noted.

Delegates at the meeting said governments should reach general agreements, thereby creating legal frameworks to manage and protect the rights and interests of laborers working abroad. Besides, international agencies should discuss the protection of domestic workers at international forums.

The ASEAN Forum on Migrant Labor is an annual event held by the ASEAN members within the framework of the ASEAN Committee to advance the implementation of the principles of the ASEAN Declaration on Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Migrant Workers.

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