Domestic workers in Nepal get 20 percent less than other workers: ILO reportNepal has also not endorsed ILO’s Domestic Workers Convention, 2011 that requires member states to set minimum wage for domestic workers.
Domestic workers in Nepal earn 20.5 percent less compared to other workers, according to a report published by the International Labour Organisation.
In its report—Making decent work a reality for domestic workers—unveiled on Wednesday, the ILO has called for implementation of a minimum wage policy for domestic workers too citing a significant pay gap between domestic and other workers in Nepal and in countries around the world.
The ILO estimates the pay gap between domestic workers and each of the comparable groups based on the average gap in hourly wages in each group categorised on the basis of age, education and those living in urban versus rural areas.
The pay gap between women domestic workers and other women workers in Nepal stands at 28.5 percent, putting domestic women workers in significant disadvantage over other women workers, according to the report.
Domestic work in the Asia and the Pacific region is performed largely by women (78.4 percent). However, the region is also the largest employer of male domestic workers, accounting for 46.1 percent of male domestic workers across the world.
“The fact that most domestic workers are female has implications for their earnings since women, on average around the world, are paid about 20 percent less than men,” the report says. “However, the degree of feminization among domestic workers is not the only condition that makes them fare worse than other employees in terms of wages.”
The report has not ruled out the possibility that the wages of domestic workers are low due to an undervaluing of care work precisely because it has traditionally been performed by women and unpaid, while also listing out weak labour market regulation, high levels of informality and weak bargaining power due to gender bias as other possible factors.
One important factor for low wages of domestic workers is that they are not covered or insufficiently covered by minimum wage policies, according to the report. Only 11 percent of domestic workers in the region enjoy the minimum wage to the same extent as other workers.
“When domestic workers are covered by a minimum wage, there is also a tendency towards prohibiting the deduction of in-kind payments from this minimum wage,” the report says.
In Nepal too, domestic workers, who are informally employed, aren’t covered by the minimum wage policy. Currently, the minimum wage of workers stands at Rs13,450 per month and Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli announced in early May that it would be increased to Rs15,000 per month.
The minimum wage is applicable in the formal sector only. Around 34 percent domestic workers in Nepal are paid below the minimum wage set by the government.
The Labour Act-2017 provides that minimum wage could be fixed for domestic workers. Section 88 of the law says the government may fix separate minimum remuneration for domestic labourers but it has yet to do so.
“The ILO research found that 64.8 percent of 108 countries surveyed implemented the minimum wage system for domestic workers, but Nepal is yet to implement the policy despite having a legal provision,” Sandhya Tiwari, an ILO staff at its Nepal office said at an online interaction with stakeholders.
Nepal has also not endorsed ILO’s Domestic Workers Convention, 2011 that requires member states to set minimum wage for domestic workers. “Each member shall set a minimum age for domestic workers consistent with the provisions of the Minimum Age Convention, not lower than that established by national laws and regulations for workers generally,” the convention states.
Satra Kumari Gurung, treasurer at Pourakhi Nepal, a non-governmental organisation working to help returnee migrant workers, has asked for implementing the convention urgently.