Regional knowledge-sharing forum – labour inspection and the domestic work sector, Lisbon, 11-12 October 2012

LAB/ADMIN participated in a regional knowledge-sharing forum on labour inspection and domestic work in Lisbon, Portugal, organized by the International Labour Office in cooperation with the Government of Portugal on 11 and 12 October 2012.

News | Ginebra, Suiza | 12 October 2012
The forum, which involved labour inspectorates and social partners from Belgium, Bulgaria, France, Ireland, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and Sweden, provided an opportunity to discuss challenges in the domestic work sector and exchange experiences on compliance and enforcement mechanisms used by labour inspectorates in Europe.
The main conclusions were that:

- A major challenge for labour inspectorates is the need to balance the right to privacy in domestic households and a labour inspector’s right of entry into any workplace under Convention No. 81. In such cases, most European countries require the consent of the employer or a previous judicial authorization. Because of this, speedy processes to obtain judicial authorization are necessary to ensure the protection of domestic workers in cases of serious violations. Household visits should be limited to cases where inspections are seen as useful and appropriate, and carried out under conditions that protect the inviolability of the home;

- Given the nature of domestic work, labour inspectors would benefit from specific training on this type of work. Access to information on households that use domestic workers would also be useful, specially to track cases of undeclared work;

- Intervention models based solely on complaints from domestic workers do not appear to be effective, given that the number of complaints is very low. This suggests the need for proactive visits and the need to build confidence among domestic workers and employers in the services labour inspectorates can provide;

- Specific inspection approaches for vulnerable groups, such as migrants or children in domestic work, should be developed;

- Collaboration between labour inspectors and other enforcement agencies in charge of labour and social protection is essential to ensure decent working conditions in this sector. Partnerships between labour inspectorates and civil society organizations can also play a valuable role.