Govt aims to strengthen maids' rights

Govt aims to strengthen maids' rights

The Labour Ministry is amending a ministerial regulation to ensure domestic helpers are not paid less than the daily minimum wage and not forced to work more than eight hours a day, a recent seminar was told.

According to Nontalee Wongkiem, director of the Protection of Informal Workers, division of the Department of Labour Protection and Welfare, the draft amendment to Regulation No.14, that deals with domestic worker labour rights, is about to be put before a final round of public hearings.

Under the proposed changes, domestic workers will receive no less than the daily minimum wage and must not work more than eight hours per day. They will also be eligible for 98 days of maternity leave out of which they will be paid for 45 of them. Termination of employment due to pregnancy will also be illegal.

If domestic helpers are minors, their employers are required to notify labour officials about such employment and the young helpers will be eligible to take education leave for no more than 30 days per year.

The latest move to protect domestic workers was revealed at a recent workshop on promoting rights and welfare benefits for migrant workers employed as domestic workers or farm labourers.

It was jointly held by the Labour Ministry, the Thai Health Promotion Foundation (ThaiHealth), and Chiang Mai University's faculty of humanities in Bangkok.

Under current rules that took effect in 2012, domestic helpers must not work for more than consecutive six days. In addition to one day off each week, they are entitled to at least six days of annual leave and a minimum of 13 public holidays.

Regulation No.14, which was introduced in line with an international convention to recognise the rights of domestic helpers, applies to both Thai and migrant workers.

According to Ms Nontalee, the proposed changes to Regulation No.14 were put before a series of public hearings in June and July this year, with a final round to take place soon. It will become effective once it is approved by the labour minister.

Songpan Tantrakul, deputy dean of the faculty of humanities, told the seminar that domestic workers do various tasks ranging from cleaning and cooking to looking after sick people and taking their employers' children to school.

He said employment contracts must state clearly their responsibilities to prevent abuse or overwork.

He also said many domestic workers are not insured under the social security programme.

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