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Landmark day for workers in private homes as Ireland ratifies Domestic Workers Convention

DWAG with Minister Richard Bruton

Migrant Rights Centre Ireland welcomes ‘momentous’ ratification of ILO Convention

Migrant Rights Centre Ireland (MRCI) today (Wednesday 9th July) welcomed Ireland’s ratification of the ILO Domestic Workers Convention, saying it will provide increased protection for thousands of vulnerable domestic workers here.

Aoife Smith of MRCI said, “There are thousands of childminders, cleaners, au pairs and carers in private homes across Ireland; the majority are women, and many are migrants. In this hidden sector, working conditions are generally poor and exploitation is rampant. By ratifying this convention, Ireland is recognising the value of this work and promoting the rights of workers in private homes. This is a momentous occasion.”

Smith continued, “In our work with domestic workers, we have seen cases of extreme exploitation, trafficking and abuse, as well as widespread underpayment and disregard for the basic employment rights of workers in private homes. Domestic workers provide essential support and care to households and families all over Ireland. We believe this ratification gives us the opportunity to create a care sector which provides quality jobs and quality care.”

Smith concluded, “Minister Bruton has made an immense contribution to the future welfare of domestic workers everywhere by pushing this Convention at EU level, particularly during Ireland’s European presidency. As one of the first European countries to ratify the Convention, Ireland is leading out on rights and protections for some of our most vulnerable workers.”

The Convention details the State’s responsibilities in protecting those working in private homes. Defining domestic work as ‘work performed in or for a household or households,’ the Convention sets out measures aimed at preventing exploitation, abuse and trafficking of cleaners, carers, childminders and other domestic workers.

Click here to read the Domestic Workers Action Group statement.


Migrant Rights Centre Ireland (MRCI) is a national NGO working with migrants and their families for equality, justice and human rights.MRCI has been campaigning for ratification of the ILO Convention in Ireland since 2010.

Full text of ILO Convention 189: Domestic Workers

List of previous ratifications (11 countries)

International Labour Organisation C189 Domestic Workers Convention: Article by Article

Article 1: Domestic work = work performed in or for a household or households. A domestic worker = a person employed to do domestic work.

Article 2: The Convention applies to all domestic workers.

Article 3: Member states will protect and promote the human rights of all domestic workers and recognise, respect and realise the core principles of the Convention: the right to collective bargaining and freedom of association, the elimination of all forms of forced labour, and the elimination of discrimination in employment.

Article 4: Member states must set a minimum age for domestic workers.

Article 5: Domestic workers must be protected from all forms of abuse, harassment and violence.

Article 6: States must ensure domestic workers have fair terms of employment, decent working conditions, and, if they live in the household, decent living conditions and privacy.

Article 7: Terms and conditions of employment should be clearly laid out, in full detail, preferably in writing. These terms should be easily understandable.

Article 8: Migrant domestic workers recruited in one country to work in another should receive a detailed job offer or contract in writing. States must cooperate with each other to ensure that migrant domestic workers are protected by this Convention.

Article 9: Domestic workers must be free to leave the house and allowed to keep their own travel & identity documented.

Article 10: Domestic work is work, and so domestic workers are entitled to the same rights as other workers: overtime pay, adequate rest, paid annual leave. Any period in which the domestic worker is ‘on call’ and at the disposal of the household should be regarded as working hours.

Article 11: Domestic workers should be covered by minimum wage legislation.

Article 12: Domestic should be paid at regular intervals, at least once a month.

Article 13: Every domestic worker is entitled to a safe and healthy working environment.

Article 14: Domestic workers should have the same access to social protection as other workers, including with respect to maternity.

Article 15: States are responsible for regulating and monitoring private agencies recruiting and placing domestic workers, to prevent abusive practices. Fees charged by these agencies should not be deducted from domestic workers’ pay.

Article 16: Domestic workers must have access to justice equal to any other worker, through courts, tribunals and dispute resolution mechanisms.

Article 17: States must ensure complaint mechanisms are in place and implement measures for labour inspection, enforcement, and penalties.

The remaining articles (18-27) cover ratification and implementation of the Convention.