Domestic labourers urge cover

Domestic labourers urge cover

Social security should be made mandatory for domestic workers, campaigners say. 

Samorn Phasomboon, chairwoman of the Domestic Workers Network, said more than 500 members want to be covered by the welfare scheme for labourers under the Social Security Act.

The Social Security Fund, as it is known, is currently available to domestic helpers on a voluntary basis. It provides welfare and other benefits, including medical insurance and a pension scheme, for long-term members.

Ms Samorn said domestic helpers should be required, rather than be given the choice, to subscribe to the scheme as it would help them build up savings and gain access to useful benefits. 

Currently employers of domestic workers are required to sign off on the social security application for the helpers, said Malee Soblek, the network secretary.

Ms Samorn said authorities should strictly enforce Ministerial Regulation 14 of the Labour Protection Act that makes it compulsory for employers to give helpers a minimum of one day off per week as well as sick leave and public holiday leave.

Only about 20% of employers, mostly foreign expats, comply with the regulation, she said.

This means a large number of domestic helpers are being exploited, she said, adding that most helpers work 12 hours each day with no overtime or days off.

Most do not know their rights, she said. Ms Samorn was speaking at a seminar to mark International Domestic Workers' Day, which falls today.

The government should ratify the Domestic Workers Convention No.189 of the International Labour Organisation, which guarantees decent working conditions for household helpers, she said.

Jantana Ekeurmanee, of the Foundation for Labour and Employment Promotion, said many domestic workers want to join the scheme as they often experience accidents requiring medical attention. Currently the workers have to shoulder medical expenses themselves, she said.

A helper, who identified herself as Jampa, said she was single and money saved from the scheme would be useful in retirement.

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