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Domestic work

Convention No. 189 on domestic workers ratified by Brazil

Brazil promotes decent work for an estimated 7 million domestic workers.

Press release | 01 February 2018
GENEVA (ILO News) – On 31 January 2018, the Government of Brazil deposited the formal instrument of ratification with the International Labour Office for ratification of the Convention on Decent Work for Domestic Workers, 2011 (No. 189). Accordingly, Brazil became the twenty-fifth member State of the ILO and the fourteenth member State in the Americas region to ratify this Convention.

It is estimated that there are about seven million domestic workers in Brazil, more than in any other country in the world. Nonetheless, until recently, domestic workers were excluded from certain protections under national labour legislation. Moreover, the majority of domestic workers are women, with indigenous peoples and persons of African descent being over-represented in the domestic work sector.

The ratification of Convention No. 189 by Brazil represents an important step that supports a series of measures the Government has taken to provide fundamental protections to domestic workers. These measures include the adoption of a constitutional amendment in April 2013, which established a maximum 44-hour work week, as well as the adoption of Law No. 150 of 1 June 2015 that, among other things, prohibited domestic work for minors under the age of 18, established an 8-hour working day, the right to paid vacation time, compensation for unfair dismissal and access to social security.

In a meeting with the Director-General, during which the formal instrument of ratification was conveyed, Ambassador María Nazareth Farani Azevêdo of the Permanent Mission of Brazil to the Office of the United Nations stated that: “Brazil is very pleased to have ratified Convention No. 189. This ratification demonstrates our continuous commitment to the rights of the most vulnerable, to decent work and our deep respect for social rights. It is also an important step towards recognizing domestic workers’ contribution to the modern economy. Since domestic workers are most often women, we trust that Convention No. 189 can indeed contribute to enhancing equality between men and women in the world of work. We shall make every effort to pursue such a fundamental goal.”

Upon receiving the instrument of ratification of Convention No. 189 from Brazil, the Director-General, Mr. Guy Ryder, stated that “The objective of Convention No. 189 is to improve living and working conditions for the millions of domestic workers throughout the world, guaranteeing them a decent job that provides them with protections equivalent to those enjoyed by other workers. Domestic workers are among the most precarious and the most poorly remunerated workers. Moreover, they frequently work in conditions of informality in which they are deprived of basic rights, such as limits on the length of the work day, the right to rest periods, a minimum wage that enables them to meet their basic needs, and access to social protection, including maternity protection. Brazil’s decision to ratify Convention No. 189 confirms its will to extend basic rights to all workers and strengthen the measures already taken at national level”.

Acknowledging the important leadership role of Brazil in the Americas region as well as at the international level, it is hoped that Brazil’s ratification of this Convention will encourage other countries to join the growing coalition of States that are taking effective measures to protect the rights of domestic workers, with the aim of ensuring that these workers can enjoy decent work in conditions of dignity.