Vietnamese domestic workers covered by law but need actual protection: ILO report hinh anh 1Illustrative photo (Source:
Hanoi (VNA) - Vietnam stands out in the Asia-Pacific region as local domestic workers are covered by labour laws, however, the challenge for the country is now in compliance, according to a report by the International Labour Organization (ILO).

The report noted that working conditions for many domestic workers in the region have not improved over the past decade and are made even worse by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Domestic workers earn the lowest wage

The ILO on June 15 released the report, titled “Making Decent Work a Reality for Domestic Workers: Progress and Prospects in Asia and the Pacific Ten Years after the Adoption of the Domestic Workers Convention, 2011”.

Per the report, exclusion from national labour laws and high levels of informality continue to take a heavy toll on the working conditions of domestic workers in the Asia and the Pacific region.

It highlighted that the majority (61.5 percent) of domestic workers in Asia and the Pacific are fully excluded from coverage under national labour laws while 84.3 percent remain in informal employment.

“There is an urgent need to formalize domestic work in the Asia Pacific, starting with the inclusion of domestic work in labour and social security laws, to ensure that these vital workers are offered the protection and respect they deserve,” said Chihoko Asada Miyakawa, Assistant ILO Director General and Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific.

The Philippines is the only country in Asia and the Pacific to have ratified the Domestic Workers Convention ten years on from its adoption.

There are some 38.3 million domestic workers over the age of 15 employed in the region, of whom 78.4 percent are women. The region is also the largest employer of male domestic workers, who account for 46.1 percent of the world’s total.

Available data indicates that the vast majority of domestic workers in the region do not have any legal limits on their working time (71 percent), nor any legal entitlement to weekly rest (64 percent) under current labour laws. The report also finds that domestic workers typically earn some of the lowest wages in the labour market, especially when they are informal.
Vietnamese domestic workers covered by law but need actual protection: ILO report hinh anh 2Illustrative photo (Source: ILO)

COVID-19 is also estimated to have had an outsized impact on domestic workers in Asia and the Pacific with the high levels of informality and lack of legal protection leading to job losses, estimated at 2-3 times higher than other workers.

Gap between legal protection and law compliance in Vietnam

According to the new ILO report, 19 percent of domestic workers in Vietnam work through service providers, and the outbound migration of domestic workers from the country has increased over the last decade.

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, domestic workers have been much more likely to lose their jobs compared to other employees and workers. The number of domestic workers decreased drastically by 17 percent in the second quarter of 2020 compared to the last quarter of 2019, while the job loss among other employees over the same period was 6.1 percent.

While some domestic workers lost their jobs, others saw a reduction in their working hours, with both of these outcomes resulting in a dramatic reduction in the total amount of wages received. In the second quarter 2020, working hours decreased by 24.7 percent compared to the fourth quarter of 2019. As a result of job losses and reductions in hours worked, the wages received by domestic workers decreased by 26.2 percent.

Vietnam is among a few countries in the region where domestic workers are covered by the labour laws. According to the 2019 Labour Code and its subsidiary Decree 145/2020/ND-CP, they are supposed to have written contracts that meet certain standards, including limits on working hours and rest time.

Among the ASEAN countries, it is only in Vietnam that domestic workers are entitled to a minimum wage rate at least equal to that fixed for other workers.

“Although Vietnam has taken good steps forward in including the protection of domestic workers in its labour laws, the challenge is now to gain compliance with the law and narrowing the gap between its legal protections and domestic workers’ actual experience,” said Chang-Hee Lee, ILO Vietnam Director.

The country plans to ratify ILO’s Domestic Workers Convention (C.189) by 2026./.