Domestic workers gain equal rights in Brazil


A Constitutional amendment passed by the Brazilian Senate on 27 March and enacted on 2 April 2013 will provide for unemployment insurance, ensure that overtime is paid to domestic workers who work more than 44 hours a week, and create a Guaranteed Fund for Time of Service in case of firing without just cause, along with a dozen other worker’s rights.

On the occasion of the enactment of the new law last week, UN Women, the International Policy Centre for Inclusive Growth (IPC-IG) and the Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG) launched a new study on the impact of such expanding social protection for domestic workers at an event in Brasília. The research was supported by UN Women under the Inter-agency Programme for the Promotion of Gender Equality, Race, and Ethnicity, developed in partnership with the IPC-IG and UNDP.

The research study underlines that the formalization of domestic work through this new law, corrects a historical debt to millions of Brazilian women and will generate economic growth for the country.

The report aims to address concerns raised over the potential rise in the cost of hiring domestic workers and its economic impacts. Entitled Impact of Welfare Changes in the Brazilian Market Home Services, the study suggests that approximately 630,000 indirect jobs may be generated due to the increased income of domestic workers, mainly in health services and the production of household appliances. The study also shows that gains in income at the bottom of the social pyramid generate benefits for the society as a whole and that evidence suggests that the demand for domestic workers’ services remains stable even when there are increased costs.

“The survey also provides an economic justification for the ratification of the Convention on Decent Work for domestic workers and workers of the International Labour Organization (ILO) Convention 189,” says Rebecca Tavares, UN Women Representative in Brazil. “This adds to the efforts of UN Women to promote the importance of a decent work agenda based on values of social justice. UN Women has been working closely with the ILO, especially by supporting organizations of domestic workers in their demands for labour rights,” she added.