The new Labour Code adopted in June 2012 for the first time recognizes domestic work as a job and has five specific clauses covering this type of labour. “This is a breakthrough,” said Ms Lin Lean Lim, ILO consultant on Gender equality and Decent work. “It is so important to legalise domestic workers because this group is growing in the labour force”.
A research conducted last year by the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs (MoLISA) and the ILO showed that 46 per cent of surveyed households in Hanoi and HCM City hired domestic workers and this rate was more than twice of pre-2000 period. Up to 90.7 per cent of domestic workers were women and many of them were migrant workers.
“Both of these groups are vulnerable to discrimination, exploitation and abuse, which includes sexual harassment,” said Ms Lim. “Recognising domestic workers in the law means promoting decent work, gender equality and protection for vulnerable workers”.
MoLISA Vice Minister Pham Minh Huan agreed that managing domestic workers is a “big issue for Vietnam”, not only because of the increasing demands for them but also Vietnam is sending this type of labour to work overseas while accepting foreign domestic workers in the country, particularly in HCM City.
As it is no easy task to bring new clauses covering domestic workers to life, he said, the ministry is drafting a guidance to instruct the implementation, which will start in May 2013 and is lobbying for a decree.
Ms Lim said the guidance should clearly define the main aspects of labour contracts signed with domestic workers and the duties and responsibilities of agencies providing these workers.
The specialist also recommended MoLISA go through other parts of the Labour Code, such as minimum wage or social protection, to see how they are applicable to this group.
The State media earlier this year reported the torture against a 59-year-old domestic worker from Hanoi’s outlying district of Ung Hoa. The woman accused her employers – a family in Ba Dinh District – of beating her, forcing her to drink boiling water, eat chilly and human waste and pouring boiling water on her body in the four months she worked for them.