ISLAMABAD: The Senate on Monday passed a bill to protect and regulate the right of domestic workers [The Domestic Workers (Employment Rights) Bill-2015], as reported by the Standing Committee, unanimously.
The bill was moved by PPP’s Senator Usman Saifullah Khan.
He said this was an important issue as there were hundreds of thousands of domestic workers in Pakistan but currently, there was no specific law on their rights.
He said protection of rights of domestic workers was the prime responsibility of the government and parliament.
The senator said the bill was framed after a long and hectic struggle and hoped that the National Assembly would also pass the bill smoothly to protect the rights of domestic workers.
He said that if it was made into a federal law, it would facilitate similar law drafting in the provinces.
According to statement of objects and reasons of the bill, the un-attended orphans and unknown parentage children in Pakistan are facing many problems. Our society is also facing problems due to non-provision of facilities like education, health and security of life to such children. They may involve in crimes and other social evils.
The legislation to protect the rights and provision of facilities to such children and to start any welfare schemes for them, has not been launched so far.
After proper legislation and providing said facilities to such children, society can succeed to make them respectable and useful citizens. This legislation is very important and requirement of the day.
According to various reports, currently, there is no specific law on the rights of domestic workers in Pakistan. Of the labour code, only two pieces of legislation mention domestic workers.
The Provincial Employees Social Security Ordinance 1965, under Section 55-A covers ‘Medical treatment of domestic servants’ and stipulates that ‘every employer of a domestic servant shall be liable to provide [medical treatment] at his own cost.’
The Minimum Wages Act 1961 includes ‘domestic work’ in its definition of ‘worker’. But the government has never notified the minimum wages applicable to domestic workers under this law in the last 53 years.
Domestic work includes child domestic labour which refers to children aged five to 17 working as servants. In big cities, including Karachi, a large number of children, both male and female, are engaged in domestic work, often under debt bondage.
According to an ILO study in 2004, there were as many as 264,000 child domestic workers in Pakistan. The number is likely to be much more now. A civil society report cited 41 cases of torture to child domestic workers reported in the media during January 2010 to June 2013.