Chapter 4: Who should be getting minimum wages

4.3 Domestic workers

Domestic workers should receive minimum wage protection equivalent to that provided to other workers generally. Minimum wage provisions are important instruments to protect the most vulnerable and lowest-paid workers – such as domestic workers – from unduly low wages. A minimum wage recognizes the basic contribution of these workers and is a key means of ensuring the principle of equal pay for work of equal value.

The Domestic Workers Convention, 2011 (No. 189), explicitly states that: “Each Member shall take measures to ensure that domestic workers enjoy minimum wage coverage, where such coverage exists, and that remuneration is established without discrimination based on sex” (Article 11).

In line with this provision, several countries, including South Africa, Brazil, Switzerland or the U.S. have taken measures, in very different circumstances, to extend minimum wage coverage to domestic workers.

According to ILO estimates, 22.3 million domestic workers (42.5 per cent of the total) still do not have any protection against unduly low wages and no minimum wage is applicable to them.1

A few examples:

1 Domestic workers across the world: Global and regional statistics and the extent of legal protection, pp. 75–76.