Valeria Uribe
Director General
Pan American Development Foundation (PADF)
Expert Contributor

Domestic Workers’ Rights: Lessons From COVID-19

By Valeria Uribe | Wed, 10/20/2021 - 14:54

Do you think that everyone has the same labor rights? According to the International Labor Organization, “Domestic workers are frequently expected to work longer hours than other workers and, in many countries, they are not afforded the same rights to rest on a weekly basis, a right enjoyed by many other workers. Combined with the lack of rights, the extreme dependency on an employer and the isolated and unprotected nature of domestic work can render them vulnerable to exploitation and abuse.

On July 3, 2020, the Mexican government handed over a formal instrument of ratification of the Domestic Workers Convention, 2011 (No. 189) to the International Labor Office (ILO). Convention No. 189 explicitly recognizes that domestic work is deemed as work and stipulates that all states should extend the same rights to domestic workers as those enjoyed by other workers.

The decision of the Mexican government to ratify Convention No. 189 confirms its willingness to extend basic rights to all workers and reinforces the measures already taken at the national level.

Lessons From COVID-19

COVID-19 has demonstrated the importance of providing domestic workers with the same rights and protections as others. Many domestic workers have been fired from their jobs. On top of this, some of them have been infected and are afraid and unsure about how to take care of themselves and their families. The National Minimum Wage Commission (CONSAMI) decided to establish a basic minimum income of at least MX$154.03 per day for this group of workers. With this tabulator, domestic workers with a minimum wage must earn MX$4,620 per month, as of Jan. 1 2021. Therefore, if domestic workers and their families get sick, without salaries and social security, the economic impact can be catastrophic.

According to the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (CEPAL), data in its report, Household Workers in Latin America and the Caribbean Facing the Covid-19 Crisis, indicates that this sector has been one of the most affected, due to their precarious employment situation, additionally characterized by their low wages and the lack of social benefits for their survival and the support of their families in situations such as dismissal or in the face of a reduction in their income. The health emergency due to the current pandemic has shown discrimination, exclusion, and violence.

As employers, we have the responsibility to recognize that there is an employment relationship in which, like any other, we have rights and obligations. And how this labor relationship is recognized and formalized is through the signing of a contract. Only 1 percent of domestic workers have a written contract in our country, which makes it difficult to access other rights, such as social security, which is a universal right.

From the Pan American Development Foundation, we have launched a campaign called "ConTratoDigno." It is a campaign that arises from the importance of vindicating domestic work and recognizing and respecting the labor relationship that exists between employers and domestic workers. This relationship must be framed like any other job within the formal labor market. That is why ConTratoDigno invites employers in Mexico to get to know and respect the labor rights of domestic workers that are established in the Federal Labor Law, the Social Security Law and Convention 189 of the International Labor Organization and amplifies the voices of those who collaborate on a daily basis to maintain the balance of thousands of households contributing to social welfare and the Mexican economy.

ConTratoDigno is also an effort to recognize the importance of the more than 2.3 million domestic workers who make a contribution to our country, to the economy and social welfare.

We invite you to share all these actions and to follow the social networks of PADF Mexico. For further questions or information on the subject write to or whatsapp 55 3193 7295. Let's join efforts in a Mexico committed to a #ConTratoDigno for domestic workers. We can all be part of the change.

@ PADFMexico


Additional information on the ConTratoDigno campaign:

Photo by:   Valeria Uribe