Regulation Covering Domestic Workers Inconclusive - Employment Minister

The passage of the Labour (Domestic Workers) Regulations 2020 (L.I.2408) to formalise domestic work will remain inconclusive unless the country ratified the International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) Domestic Workers Convention (C189).

Mr Ignatius Baffour Awuah, the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations, said Ghana must ratify the C189 “as soon as practicable” to firm up the country’s commitment towards ensuring that domestic workers enjoyed same basic labour rights as enjoyed by other professionals.

“...without ratification, this notable achievement will remain inconclusive if we deny ourselves the regular reporting associated with ratifications,” he said.

Mr Baffour Awuah made the remarks when he addressed a virtual advocacy meeting for the ratification of ILO Conventions C189 and C190 on domestic workers and violence and harassment at work in the ECOWAS regions.

The meeting provided an opportunity to ECOWAS Member States, Policymakers, Social Partners and other organisations to deliberate on issues of ratification of the Conventions as they sought to improve working conditions of identified vulnerable and marginalised groups of workers.

The Convention on Domestic Workers (C189) was adopted by the ILO at its annual conference in Geneva in June 2011.

The Convention defines domestic work as work performed in or for a household or households, within an employment relationship and on an occupational basis.

The ILO says at least 75.6 million people worldwide are domestic workers.

Data from ILO indicates that Africa is the largest employer of domestic workers after Asia and Latin America.

Approximately 5.2 million domestic workers are employed throughout the region, of whom 3.8 million are women and 1.4 million are men.

In its 2021 Report, the ILO indicated that a decade after the adoption of C189, decent work had not yet become a reality for domestic workers.

“A staggering eight out of every ten domestic workers are informally employed and thus lack effective labour and social protections,” it said.

Mr Baffour Awuah said it was worrying that eleven years after the adoption of C189, only one country in the sub-region (Guinea), had ratified the Convention.

He said the C190 on Violence and Harassment at the workplace, which was adopted in 2019, had also been ratified by only four countries in Africa – Namibia, Maurituis, South Africa and Somalia.

“It is worrying because the sub-region remains one of the vulnerable regions, notorious in terms of instability and political upheavals, and these security breaches have macroeconomic underpinnings of which employment and decent work cannot be excluded.

“As a sub-region, our journey towards ensuring decent work has been fraught with many challenges, including weak labour market institutions, large size informal economy with vulnerable employment and huge decent work deficits,” he said.

MR Awuah said the ratification of the two Conventions must be seen as an opportunity to change the narrative not only in expanding the opportunities for employment but also ensuring that the workplace was safe for the average worker, his employer and even third parties.