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‘No weekend off for 87pc domestic workers’

Published : 12 Feb 2023 11:02 PM | Updated : 13 Feb 2023 02:46 PM

About 87 percent of domestic workers have no experience of taking a weekend off. However, a small portion of them avail about 1.5 percent earned leave, about percent paid maternity leave and about 6percent unpaid maternity leave. This is according to a new study conducted by the Bills-Suniti project.

The result of the study was discussed at a workshop on “Gender Violence at Work: Research Report on Women Domestic Workers in Bangladesh” at Jahur Hossain Chowdhury Auditorium, Jatiya Press Club, Dhaka on Sunday, read a press release.

DNET, on behalf of the Bills-Suniti project, conducted the event titled “Grooming and Gender Violence in the Workplace: A Research Project on Women Domestic Workers in Bangladesh” by BILS, Suniti (Securing Rights of Women Domestic Workers in Bangladesh) project on rights, dignity and protection of domestic workers.

The study was conducted on 456 residents, 370 part-timers and 150 employers using both quantitative and qualitative methods and qualitative data were collected from relevant stakeholders for this study.

According to the researchers, about 85% of employers felt that life skills training would increase their rights awareness and job recognition. About 99% of domestic workers are not provided with any type of occupational hazard or hazard protection equipment. Domestic workers never get various social security like severance pay, post severance pay, provident fund, gratuity, pension, accident benefits, medical allowance etc. About 99% of domestic workers surveyed on skill development did not receive any training related to skill development.

100% domestic workers do not have a formal employment contract. They are employed by the employer through an oral contract. From experience, about 26% of domestic workers have had their wages cut due to absenteeism or tardiness. In the case of domestic workers who stay at home, they have to work 10 to 14 hours a day. On the other hand, daily domestic workers can work independently as per the work contract. Domestic workers in Bangladesh do not have weekly or festive holidays.

Director of Labor Department Billal Hossain Sheikh said, "There should be specific laws for the protection of domestic workers, as well as there should be punishments. Awareness alone doesn't really do much.”

Sushmita Paik, deputy director of National Human Rights Commission Bangladesh said, "We think about all the backward people of the society, including the minority groups, but we do not think about the domestic workers. To achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, we must move forward with them, leaving no one behind.”

M. Shahadat Hossain, co-founder and executive director of DNET, said, “The research findings suggest a lot needs to be done to ensure the safety and security of domestic workers in Bangladesh. The right step toward would be take steps to shift them informal to a formal sector. The government can play an ensure role in this regard.”

BILS Joint Secretary General Dr. Wajedul Islam Khan, Oxfam Bangladesh Project Coordinator Tarek Aziz, ILO National Project Coordinator Eni Drong, Labor Rights Journalists Forum General Secretary Ataur Rahman, Change Initiative researcher and chief executive MdZakir Hussain Khan, Global Affairs Canada Senior Development Advisor Sylvia Islam, Global Affairs Canada Head of Corporation Joe Goodings and World Bank Consultant ABM Khorshed among others were present at the workshop. 

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