CURRENT SITUATION AROUND THE WORLD
Domestic workers may live at home, though they are usually “live-in” domestics, meaning they receive room and board as part of their salaries. In some countries, because of the large gap between urban and rural incomes, and the lack of employment opportunities in the countryside, even an ordinary middle class urban family can afford to employ a full-time live-in servant. The majority of domestic workers in China, Mexico, India, and other populous developing countries, are people from the rural areas who are employed by urban families. America’s domestic home help workers, most of them female minorities, earn low wages and often receive no retirement or health benefits because they lack basic labor protections, according to a first-of-its-kind survey of more than 2,000 domestic workers in 14 American cities. The report from the National Domestic Workers Alliance and affiliated groups found that nearly a quarter of nannies, caregivers, and home health workers make less than the minimum wage in the states in which they work, and nearly half – 48 percent – are paid less than needed to adequately support a family.
In Guatemala, it is estimated that eight percent of all women work as domestic workers. They hardly have any legal protection. According to Guatemalan labour law, domestic work is “subject neither to a working time statute nor to regulations on the maximum number of working hours in a day”. Legally, domestic helpers are only entitled to ten hours of free time in 24 hours, and one day off per week. But very often, these minimal employment laws are disregarded, and so are basic civil liberties.
In Brazil, domestic workers must be hired under a registered contract and have most of the rights of any other workers, which includes aminimum wage, remunerated vacations and a remunerated weekly day off. It is not uncommon, however, to hire servants without registering them. Since servants come almost always from the lower, uneducated classes, they are sometimes ignorant of their rights, especially in the rural zone. Nevertheless, domestics employed without a proper contract sometimes sue their employers to get compensation from abuses.
In India, domestic workers are known as maidservants, manservants, drivers and cooks.
In the United States, domestic workers are excluded from many of the legal protections afforded to other classes of worker, including the provisions of the National Labor Relations Act. Traditionally domestic workers have mostly been women and are likely to be immigrants.A California bill formerly known as AB 889 nearly offered legal protections including mandatory overtime pay and breaks but was vetoed in September 2012 by Gov. Jerry Brown.
In July 2011, at the annual International Labour Conference, held by the ILO, conference delegates adopted the Convention on Domestic Workers by a vote of 396 to 16, with 63 abstentions. The Convention recognizes domestic workers as workers with the same rights as other workers. On 26 April 2012, Uruguay was the first country to ratify the convention.
Trends in domestic work
The domestic work industry is currently dominated throughout the world by women.
While the domestic work industry is advantageous for women in that it provides them a sector that they have substantial access to, it can also prove to be disadvantageous by reinforcing gender inequality through the idea that domestic work is an industry that should be dominated by women. Within the domestic work industry the much smaller proportion of jobs that is occupied by men are not the same jobs that are typically occupied by women. Within the child care industry men make up only about 3–6% of all workers. Additionally, in the child care industry men are more likely to fill roles that are not domestic in nature but administrative such as a managerial role in a day care center.
While the domestic work industry was once believed to be an industry that belonged to a past type of society and did not belong in a modern world, trends are showing that although elements of the domestic work industry have been changing the industry itself has shown no signs of fading away, but only signs of transformation. There are several specific causes that are credited to continuing the cycle of the demand for domestic work. One of these causes is that with more women taking up full-time jobs, a dually employed household with children places a heavy burden on parents. It is argued however that this burden wouldn’t result in the demand for outside domestic help if men and women were providing equal levels of effort in domestic work and child rearing within their own home.
The demand for domestic workers has also become largely fulfilled by migrant domestic workers from other countries who flock to wealthier nations to fulfill the demand for help at home. This trend of domestic workers flowing from poorer nations to richer nations creates a relationship that on some levels encourages the liberation of one group of people at the expense of the exploitation of another. Although domestic work has far from begun to fade from society, the demand for it and the people who fill that demand has changed drastically over time.
Domestic work and international migration
Many countries import domestic workers from abroad, usually poorer countries, through recruitment agencies and brokers because their own nationals are no longer obliged or inclined to do domestic work. This includes most Middle Eastern countries,Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia and Taiwan. For most of these countries, the number of domestic workers runs into the hundreds of thousands. There are at least one million domestic workers in Saudi Arabia under the kafala system.
Major sources of domestic workers include Thailand, Indonesia, India, Philippines, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Ethiopia. Taiwan also imports domestic workers fromVietnam and Mongolia. Organizations such as Kalayaan support the growing number of these migrant domestic workers.
The migration of domestic workers can lead to several different effects both on the countries that are sending workers abroad and countries that are receiving domestic workers from abroad. One particular relationship between countries sending workers and countries receiving workers is that the sending country can be filling gaps in labor shortages of the receiving country. This relationship can be potentially beneficial for both countries involved because the demand for labor is being met and fulfilled by workers’ demand for jobs. This relationship however can prove to be quite complicated and not always beneficial. When unemployment in a receiving country rises migrant domestic workers are not only no longer needed but their presence can be detrimental to domestic workers of that country.
When international migration began to flourish the assumed migrant worker was typically considered to be a man. What studies are now starting to show is that women are dominating large numbers of the international migration patterns by taking up large percentages of domestic workers that leave their home country in search for work as a domestic laborer in another country.
Women who migrate to take up work as domestic workers are motivated by different reasons and migrate to a variety of different outcomes. While for many women, domestic work abroad is the only opportunity to find work and provide an income for their families, domestic labor is a market they are forced to enter due to blocked mobility in their homelands. Additionally, migrant domestic workers often have to face the stress of leaving family members behind in their home countries while they take up work abroad. Upward mobility is particularly difficult for migrant domestic workers because their opportunities are often limited by their illegal status putting a very definite limitation on the work that is available to them as well as their power to negotiate with employers