Argentina adopted a new domestic workers law on March 16. Among its provisions, the law establishes maximum working hours of 8 hours/day or 48 hours/week; overtime pay; a weekly rest break of at least 35 hours; a minimum of 14 annual vacation days; sick leave; and maternity leave. The law sets a minimum age of 16 for domestic work, limits the working hours of those between ages 16 and 18 to 36 hours a week, and prohibits domestic workers below the age of 18 from living in their employer's home.
Press release from the Ministry of Labour, Employment and Social Security:
This Act extends private household workers' labour rights and puts them on the same level with ordinary workers.
Fostered by the National Government through the Labour Ministry, this new legislation replaces the regulatory framework which had been in force since 1956 by means of a dictatorship's decree-law.
There is currently a total estimated 1.2 million people working in private households, of whom 95% are women, many of them coming from bordering countries. Just over 270 thousand of them are registered as a worker.
After the vote, the Minister Carlos Tomada said: "This bill, today turned into an act, had a clear purpose: to grant them the same rights the other workers have. For decades, private household workers had an unfavourable legal scheme which, added to a shameful social security evasion, deprived them of a basic principle as is labour citizenship. This act, therefore, comes to compensate a fifty-year debt with a social sector, a group which lacked the rights everyone else had."
Under the instructions of the President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, the bill had been sent to the Congress in 2010 and was recently passed for the purpose of avoiding labour exploitation and illegality.
In this sense, the new Private Household Workers Contract of Employment Special Scheme Act should be framed within a policy the Labour Ministry develops for all social sectors: "The President entrusted us with a task that can be summarized as putting rights on the same level. And with this private household workers act she was as emphatic as with everything else. For this reason we drafted this bill in the Labour Ministry which had been widely discussed in the Parliament, which was amended in order to be completed and which today came into being thanks to all of us Argentinians," the head of the Labour portfolio said.
The Minister Tomada held: "It is clear that this new conquest for female and male workers is not an isolated fact. It is part of the labour policy which began in 2003. Its main foundations for growth lay on work and workers. And growth is possible only if there is an equality horizon."
Founded in 2007, the National Domestic Workers Alliance (NDWA) is the nation's leading voice for the millions of domestic workers in the United States, most of whom are women.