Domestic Workers

Legal Protection of Domestic Work in Myanmar

Traditionally, domestic work has been done by housewives or poor relatives, usually women. It has not been considered real work and has consequently not been paid as such. It has not been afforded labour protections, and not been valued as work. Today, the situation is changing. In urban settings, more wives are working outside of the household requiring them to look beyond their own families to find domestic workers. If women are being employed to keep the house clean, cook, look after the children, do the shopping, the ironing and more; then the question arises, is this not work? Is this not an employer employee relationship? And if so, shouldn’t there be laws specifying the labour conditions as there are for other workers?

Currently in Myanmar, domestic workers are excluded from many labour protections in the law including to the right to days off and holidays.
In 2011, the ILO adopted the Convention on Decent Work for Domestic Workers (Convention No 189) providing an international legal framework for the protection of domestic workers.
With several high profile cases of severe abuse and exploitation of domestic workers in Myanmar exposed in the media, there have been some voices calling for change but it is not clear to what extent there is support for the development of a law to protect domestic workers.
Therefore, the Developing International and Internal Labour Migration Governance (DIILM) project of the ILO Yangon, supported by the Livelihoods and Food Security Fund (LIFT) together with the Working Group for Legal Protection of Domestic Workers carried out a public opinion poll to find out how much support there is among the general public, employers and domestic workers for a law protecting domestic work and to better understand where the barriers to such protection may exist.