Unprotected by Law, Asia’s Domestic Workers Hit Harder by Covid

A majority of domestic workers in the Asia-Pacific region lack legal protections, and as a result have suffered an outsized blow from the Covid-19 pandemic, according to the International Labour Organization.

Some 61.5% of domestic workers in the region are fully excluded from coverage by national labor laws, while 84.3% are employed informally, the ILO said in a report released Tuesday.

The high levels of informality and lack of legal protection have led to two to three times more job losses among domestic workers than other employees during the pandemic, the ILO estimates.

“There is an urgent need to formalize domestic work in the Asia-Pacific, starting with the inclusion of domestic work in labor and social security laws,” Chihoko Asada Miyakawa, the ILO’s assistant director general and regional director for Asia-Pacific, said in a statement.

About 71% of domestic workers in the region don’t have legal limits on their working time, and 64% don’t have legal entitlement to weekly rest, the ILO said. A decade after the adoption of the Domestic Workers Convention by the ILO, which is a United Nations agency, the Philippines is the only country in Asia-Pacific to have ratified it.

The region has 38.3 million domestic workers over age 15, nearly 80% of them women, according to the ILO. Asia-Pacific also has the largest number of male domestic workers, accounting for 46.1% of the worldwide total.

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