Domestic Worker Definition

Domestic workers are individuals who work for private households. Their tasks may include taking care of children, elderly or sick family members, cleaning, cooking, laundry and ironing, gardening, shopping for food and any errands related to the upkeep of a household. While domestic workers may live in their own houses, some are live-in domestics; this means they live in their employer(s) residence. They have their own accommodations and receive room and board as part of their salaries. Some domestic workers may also be required to wear a uniform.

Domestic workers or domestic helpers comprise a significant part of the global workforce in informal employment and because of the lack of enforcement of the legislation that protects them, are among the most vulnerable group of workers.

While a substantial number of men work in the sector, it remains a highly feminized sector. The ILO states that 83 percent of all domestic workers are women and many are migrant workers. Because of this, women have steered the domestic work system to maximize the benefits both in their countries and abroad.

In the United States, domestic workers do not have the same legal protections afforded to other classes of worker. Due to the lack of basic labor protections, domestic workers often receive low wages, no retirement or health benefits. However, in 2010 the state of New York required mandatory overtime and breaks for all domestic workers.

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