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Commission urges EU countries to implement ILO domestic workers convention

21/03/2013

The European Commission has presented a proposal for a Council Decision authorising EU countries to ratify the International Labour Organisation 2011 Convention concerning decent work for domestic workers (Convention No. 189).

Countries ratifying the ILO Convention agree to ensure fair and decent conditions for domestic workers by protecting their fundamental labour related rights, preventing abuse and violence and establishing safeguards for young domestic workers.

"Improving working conditions in personal services is an important objective for the Commission" said László Andor, Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion, adding "I urge Member States to ratify this Convention as soon as possible, which will also contribute to implementing the EU strategy against trafficking in human beings".

The Commission proposal for a Council Decision is necessary because the EU countries cannot autonomously ratify ILO Conventions without prior authorisation by the Council in respect of those parts of the Convention which fall under EU competence. The EU itsel cannot ratify any ILO Convention, because only States can be parties to it. 

States ratifying the Convention are required to take measures to ensure fair and decent working conditions and to prevent abuse, violence and child labour in domestic employment. They must ensure equal treatment between domestic workers and other workers as regards compensation and benefits, for example in the case of maternity. The Convention also introduces an obligation to inform workers of the terms and details of their employment. Further clauses ensure that domestic workers are protected against discrimination, are offered decent living conditions, and have easy access to complaint mechanisms. Finally, the Convention sets out rules regarding foreign recruitment. 

EU legislation already addresses some aspects covered by the ILO Convention. The provisions of the Convention share the same approach than this legislation and are broadly consistent. On many issues, EU law is more protective than the Convention. The Convention, however, is more precise than EU law in the coverage of domestic workers by legislation and in other particular aspects of domestic work.