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Dec 17, 2018

Have law to protect domestic workers, Putrajaya told



Putrajaya has been urged to develop a law to protect domestic workers and give them the same rights as every other employee.

Persatuan Sahabat Wanita, an NGO which fights for the rights of female workers, said this would be in line with the International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) Convention No. 189 on Decent Work for Domestic Workers, which it wants the government to ratify.

Irene Xavier, the organisation’s founder told FMT the principle of the convention was that domestic workers were employees, not maids.

On one end of the spectrum, she said, employers saw their domestic workers as part of the household, while on the other end, they viewed them as slaves who should do what they are told while their movements are restricted.

“Right now, we have the Employment Act 1955 which states that domestic servants are employees, but they are exempted from most parts of the act.

“The only provisions which apply are that domestic workers should be given employment letters and two weeks’ notice of termination,” she said on the sidelines of the launch of Tenaganita’s International Migrants Day celebrations on Sunday.

Persatuan Sahabat Wanita is working to get domestic workers the same rights as other workers, including Employees Provident Fund contributions, Social Security Organisation coverage, off-days, sick leave and annual leave.

“The hours of work per day should be regulated, along with accommodation standards since they are live-in workers like plantation workers,” Xavier told FMT.

Noting that the Philippines and Indonesia both had laws which reflected the spirit of the ILO convention, she said this was the way forward for Malaysia if it wanted to be a developed country.

“The government needs to rethink its policy on migrant workers. It needs to ensure that everyone who comes here to work is treated with dignity and respect.”

To this end, she said, her organisation was ready and willing to assist the government and other stakeholders to develop a law.

“In fact, we have already developed a draft of the law to speed up the process, and we have asked the government to look at it.”

Last year, data from the Malaysian Maid Employers Association showed there were more than 250,000 registered domestic workers in Malaysia.

FMT

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