ILO launches new strategy to achieve decent work for domestic workers

With the global demand for domestic workers likely to grow, the International Labour Organization steps up action to ensure they have access to decent work.

News | 15 June 2023
© J. Aliling / ILO
GENEVA (ILO News) – The International Labour Organization has launched a five-step strategy aimed at making decent work a reality for domestic workers worldwide, whose working conditions remain some of the poorest in the labour market.

Domestic workers play an invaluable role in many societies, providing essential direct and indirect care services to private households. As care workers, they work at the foundation of our families, societies and economies.

However, their contributions have often been undervalued. An ILO report, published in 2021 found that 81 per cent of domestic workers were informally employed, due either to gaps in legal coverage or gaps in implementation.

Yet the growing global need for care services means that the demand for domestic workers is likely to grow.

The strategy aims to provide practical solutions to empower and improve the lives of domestic workers worldwide. It is based on governments, employers and workers working together through the following phases:
  1. Estimate the number of domestic workers and the share of domestic workers in informal employment. Demographic data on the characteristics of domestic workers, and on their working conditions helps to inform the next four steps.
  2. Analyse gaps in labour and social security laws and regulations that cover domestic workers and whether the level of protection provided is adequate.
  3. Identify drivers of informal employment practices and non-compliance in order to develop targeted strategies to address them.
  4. Discuss the results of Steps 1–3 and develop an action plan through social dialogue toward the formalization of domestic work.
  5. Implement the action plan and monitor progress towards its objectives.
"We strongly believe that by following these steps, inspired by the good practices presented in the report, we can make significant progress so that decent work becomes a reality for domestic workers. Domestic workers have ensured our daily care needs. Now it is time for us to ensure they enjoy decent work,” said Sukti Dasgupta, Director of the Conditions of Work and Equality Department.
“Domestic workers have ensured our daily care needs. Now it is time for us to ensure they enjoy decent work."