BANGKOK (ILO News) – The International Labour Organization (ILO) Country Office for Thailand welcomes the passing of a new Ministerial Regulation that will better protect domestic workers in the Kingdom of Thailand, approved on 30 October and to be implemented this year.
The regulation specifies that domestic workers are entitled to at least one day off each week, be paid overtime for work on holidays (including weekly day off, traditional holidays and annual leave) and be paid for sick leave (not exceeding thirty days each year). Under the regulation, domestic workers are also entitled to thirteen traditional holidays each year. There is provision for payment as a result of termination. Hiring workers under fifteen years old is strictly prohibited.
These conditions for protection are inspired by the ILO’s Domestic Workers Convention (No. 189) adopted in 2011. To date, Mauritius, the Philippines and Uruguay have ratified this Convention that is due to come into force next year. The Domestic Workers Convention has been hailed as a major step in the protection of workers in a traditionally ‘invisible’ workplace. Most domestic workers are women.
Mr Jiyuan Wang, ILO Country Director for Thailand said that “The Domestic Workers Convention demonstrated the ILO’s commitment to making decent work a reality for domestic workers and the Royal Thai Government should be commended in passing this Ministerial Regulation in the spirit of the Convention.”
Ms Poonsap Suanmuang Tulaphan of Homenet, an organization working with domestic workers in partnership with the ILO, stated that the new Ministerial Regulation is cause for celebration. She further said that “This is a turning point for the protection of domestic workers and recognition of home-based work in Thailand, even though not all entitlements are included.” She also noted the importance of creating public awareness about this regulation and recognizing the vital contribution that domestic workers make to Thai society.
The Tripartite Action for the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Migrant Workers in the Greater Mekong Sub-region (TRIANGLE) project has been promoting decent work for migrant domestic workers and was similarly encouraged by the passing of the regulation. Project Coordinator, Max Tunon, said “We are very pleased that the protection has been extended to domestic workers and we are especially glad about the positive effect this regulation will have on a significant proportion of domestic workers who are also migrants.”
Homenet estimates that up to 90 per cent of domestic workers are migrants. In 2011, there were 83,066 registered migrant domestic workers from Myanmar, Lao PDR and Cambodia, mostly women.
While this extra protection is welcomed and the Royal Thai Government is to be applauded for this positive step, challenges for domestic workers still remain. Domestic workers still do not enjoy the same rights as other workers. For example, minimum wage does not apply to domestic workers. They also lack protection in case of pregnancy - no maternity leave benefits or protection from termination due to pregnancy. Given that the majority of domestic workers are women, these issues are extremely important to this sector.
For further information please contact:
Anna Olsen, Technical Officer, TRIANGLE Project, Bangkok
Tel: +66 2 288 2233
Krisdaporn Singhaseni, Information Officer
ILO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, Bangkok
Tel. +66 2 288 1664