Radio Campaigns on Standards-Setting for Domestic Workers: Domestic Workers are Workers

The Campaign aims to provide better protection and recognition to domestic workers, with a focus on Indonesian domestic workers as well as to raise awareness about the plight of domestic workers in Indonesia.


Domestic work is considered undervalued and poorly regulated, and many domestic workers remain overworked, underpaid and unprotected. Accounts of maltreatment and abuse, especially of live-in and migrant domestic workers, are regularly reported in the media. In addition, in many countries, domestic work is largely performed by child labourers.

Domestic workers also represent the single largest group of female salaried workers toiling away in households of others in their own country or abroad. Despite the important role of domestic workers in the household and overall economy, domestic work is still not recognized as work. Since their work is done in private households, which are not considered work places in many countries, their employment relationship is frequently not addressed in national labour laws or other legislation, denying them recognition as workers entitled to labour protection.

According to an ILO study in 2004, there were an estimated 2,593,399 domestic workers in Indonesia; of these, 1.4 million domestic workers were estimated to work in Java alone. The vast majority of domestic workers are female with low educational levels; they mainly come from poor families in rural communities. Seen as informal sector work, the Indonesian government’s current interpretation of national labour law excludes domestic workers from its coverage. So far, very few Asian countries, such as the Philippines and Hong Kong, have extended the coverage of national labour standards to domestic workers.


Domestic workers are workers


  • To provide better protection and recognition to domestic workers, with a focus on Indonesian domestic workers as part of the follow-up to the issuance of the ILO’s Law and Practices Report titled “Decent Work for Domestic Work” in April 2009, proposing ILO’s setting of international labour standards for domestic work. The purpose of the report is to facilitate the discussion on domestic work at the 99th Session of the International Labour Conference (ILC) in 2010.
  • To raise awareness about the plight of domestic workers in Indonesia and to stimulate an interactive discussion on international and national level activities on standards-setting for domestic workers, status of work conditions and protection for Indonesian domestic workers, and positions of the tripartite constituents on this issue.
  • To examine to which extent, if any domestic workers are covered by national laws on basic employment conditions, such as a formalized employment contract, remuneration, days off, working hours, social protection, and regulation of the live-in work situation


November – December 2009


Medan (4 November), Samarinda (10 November), Semarang (16 November), Makassar (23 November), Yogyakarta (2 December) and Surabaya (5 December).