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Landmark law to protect domestic workers

Landmark law to protect domestic workers

There are around 2.5 million domestic workers in the Philippines, often considered “helpers” rather than workers with legal rights. They work excessive hours, enjoy no social security benefits and often fall victim to abuse and exploitation.

In the face of such a blatant gap in access to civil rights, anti-trafficking NGO Visayan Forum spent over 20 years fighting for a national law offering protection and welfare to domestic workers in the Philippines.  Advocacy efforts were, however, challenged by the lack of data backing up their legislative proposals, which is where TrustLaw’ s assistance proved imperative.

TrustLaw connected Visayan Forum to international law firm White & Case and Chilean law firm Grasty Quintana Majlis & Cia in a multi-jurisdictional project reviewing laws and policies related to the protection of domestic workers in eight countries. Visayan Forum used the research to negotiate for landmark legislation in the Philippines, the Magna Carta for Domestic Workers, which was passed in February 2013 and set, for the first time, a formal framework of basic rights for domestic workers in the Philippines.

Following the passing of the law, in 2014, 243 domestic workers were able to file complaints about abuse, underpayment and lack of benefits to the Department of Labour and Employment of the Philippines. The Philippines is so far the only country in Asia which ratified the International Labour Organization’s Convention 189, a global treaty extending basic labour rights to domestic workers.  

Check out the above video for the moving story behind this groundbreaking research project, leading to legislative change in the Philippines. White & Case won the 2013 TrustLaw Impact Award for this pioneering research programme.

Take a look at the rest of the TrustLaw publications to find out more about the diverse research work we facilitate.