Launching of Voluntary Pledge by Employers’ Organizations: Promoting Decent Work for Domestic Workers in India

Opening remarks by Ms Dagmar Walter, Director, ILO DWT/CO-New Delhi at the launch of the voluntary pledge by Employers' Organizations promoting decent work for domestic workers

Statement | New Delhi, India | 16 June 2022
Distinguished members of Employers’ organizations, representatives, and colleagues,


It is my great pleasure to welcome you to this landmark event to launch the voluntary pledge by Employers’ organizations to promote decent work for domestic workers in India.

16 June is celebrated as International Domestic Workers’ Day globally. Many events are being organized to recognize the important contribution domestic workers make to society and to promote decent work for them.

While the discussion on the conditions of domestic workers may appear new to some of you, they are in fact not new. For example, in India, domestic work was discussed in a report published in 1947 titled “Woman’s role in planned economy” which was part of the National Planning Committee Series. The report presents that about one-fourth of women engaged in wage-earning work were domestic workers. With domestic service being segregated into categories such as cooks, maids, sweepers, water carriers, coolies for gardening, washerwomen, and part-time helpers, all engaged in household work.

The report highlights various challenges domestic workers face, such as meagre wages, long working hours without regular days off and no time and place for leisurely activities, and limited access to medical treatment and care.

Recognizing the challenges domestic workers face, the report states that “some regulations for domestic workers concerning hours of work, holidays, wages, health, etc, are very necessary”. Back in 1947 the National Planning Committee report made recommendations to adopt measures such as “registration of all domestic workers, establishment of training centres, formation of domestic workers’ unions, registered and recognized by the State, half day holiday every week and 15 days annual holiday with pay, provision for adequate housing facilities, fixing of minimum monthly wage, a scheme of social insurance, and girls and boys under 18 should not be giving full time work”.

At the international level, the need to address challenges faced by domestic workers and promote decent work was discussed for some time and finally officially recognized in June 2011, at the International Labour Conference, the government, worker and employer delegates adopted a historic set of international standards to improve the working conditions of tens of millions of domestic workers worldwide.

It has been 11 years since the adoption of the standards, namely Convention No. 189 on Domestic Workers, and Recommendation No. 201 on Domestic Workers.

In these 11 years, there has been vital progress in recognizing domestic workers and improving the working conditions of domestic workers, thanks to the efforts of various stakeholders.
However, there is still a long way to go to realize decent work for domestic workers in India, and all of us can play an key role in this regard.

Therefore, today’s event is a crucial milestone.
Employers’ organizations have expressed their keen interest in taking initiatives that can improve the working conditions of domestic workers. Therefore, we are here today to adoption a voluntary pledge by Employers’ organizations to promote decent work for domestic workers in India.

The adoption of this voluntary pledge is an important step taken by Employers’ Organizations toward making progress for the working conditions of domestic workers.

It also comes at this critical time when the COVID-19 pandemic brought more challenges for domestic workers, leaving many workers without a means to sustain their livelihoods or exposing many of the workers to unsafe working conditions.

Recognizing various challenges faced by domestic workers, the progress made so far, and the important role that each of us can play to improve their working conditions, makes it essential for us to speak up and spread awareness on the need to ensure decent work for domestic workers in India.

I congratulate EFI and AIOE for being proactive in spreading awareness about the need to promote decent work for domestic workers by launching and adopting the pledge on domestic workers. This is an essential contribution, as your pledge can reach many of your members as well as employees of your members who may be engaging domestic workers.

I would also like to thank the ILO/Japan project on Promoting rights and social inclusion (PRS) for providing technical and financial support to organize this event. Many colleagues from the office have helped preparing, and ILO in India has been working to promote decent work for domestic workers over a decade, through various projects, including on-going projects such as Work in Freedom Programme, and I hope we can continue to work on these important issues with key stakeholders.

I welcome you once again and look forward to continuing collaboration with Employers’ organizations in making significant progress in realizing decent work for domestic workers in India.

Thank you for your kind attention and wish you success!