Good Practice

Outcome 5: Thematic Funding for 2014-2015 - Final Independent Evaluation

Project documentation | 24 October 2017
Contact(s): INWORK
Good Practice Description

One question raised by the evaluation was the relevance of focusing on policy change (towards the ratification of C189 and the application of minimum wage laws) in the context of very high levels of informal sector employment and limited capacity of state labour bodies to manage compliance with labour legislation (for example in Zambia, where 89% of workers work in the informal sector, the budget of the MOLSS has been cut significantly, and there is limited presence of the Labour Department outside the main urban centres). However the project has highlighted the scope to use policy not only as mechanisms for state enforcement and compliance, but as a means to change social practice and norms, e.g. how employers regard each other's employment practices as peers (i.e. changing the extent to which it is socially acceptable for employers not to pay their employees the minimum wage, or not to respect the right to rest), or acting as a basis for collective claims by domestic workers, including both individual and collective claims through unions. This has been achieved through public information campaigns on policies for domestic workers and/ or minimum wages, including the translation of policy into user friendly notes, or accessible policy products, such as a Code of Conduct for employers of domestic workers, and Standard Contracts for the employment of domestic orders. In the context of a high level of informality this seems like a sound strategy, and means that policy development is still likely to make an important contribution to domestic workers' rights despite the very limited capacity of the MOLSS to implement policies.

Mainstreaming issues such as gender equality into sectoral areas of intervention is an ongoing challenge for organizations such as the ILO, and one which consistently faces institutional resistance, watering down of rights based agendas, and marginalization. In this light this project has had notable success in fostering intra-institutional learning and coordination on the issues of domestic workers, in particular, and vulnerable workers/ atypical working arrangements more generally. The experience of mainstreaming the rights of DW into the core work of the ILO, as evidenced by the project seems to have been a highly successful example, and lessons can be learnt from some of the core approaches used. Successful strategies appear to have included the following: linking a focus on DW to the core areas of work (e.g. wages, social dialogue, right to rest etc.) of participating staff; balancing specific interventions (CPOs focused on C189 in particular) with mainstreaming approaches (addressing domestic workers' rights issues through CPOs focused on issues such as minimum wages and social protection); building on the momentum of the launch of C189 in 2011, and its high profile at the Labour conference to draw on both internal and external support; developing institutional structures (e.g. the Interdisciplinary Working Group on Domestic Work) to foster collaboration across the ILO, and; employing a very collaborative and inclusive management, with credit to the particular capacity of the lead INWORK team.