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European Commission

Press release

Brussels, 28 January 2014

Working conditions: time for Member States to implement the ILO domestic workers convention

The European Commission welcomes the adoption by the EU's Council of Ministers of a Decision authorising Member States to ratify the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Convention concerning fair and decent work for domestic workers (Convention No. 189). The Decision was proposed by the Commission in March 2013 (see IP/13/264), and endorsed by the European Parliament. The 2011 ILO Domestic Workers Convention requires signatory countries to take measures to ensure fair and decent working conditions and to prevent abuse, violence and child labour in domestic employment.

"Improving working conditions in personal services is a key objective for the Commission" said László Andor, Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion. "I therefore welcome this Decision, which paves the way for ratification of the ILO Convention by EU Member States and contributes to fighting trafficking in human beings. I urge Member States to implement this Convention as soon as possible".

To implement the Convention, ratifying States will have to make sure that domestic workers:

  • receive equal treatment with other workers as regards compensation and benefits, for example in the case of maternity

  • are informed of the terms and details of their employment

  • are protected against discrimination

  • are offered decent living conditions

  • have easy access to complaint mechanisms.

Finally, the Convention also sets out rules regarding foreign recruitment.

EU legislation, such as Directives on health and safety, workers' rights, gender equality, trafficking and asylum, already addresses some aspects covered by the ILO Convention. The provisions of the Convention share the same approach as this legislation and are broadly consistent. On many issues, EU law is more protective than the Convention. However, the Convention is more precise than EU law on the coverage of domestic workers by legislation and in other particular aspects of domestic work.


The EU promotes, in all its policies, the ratification and effective implementation of ILO Conventions on core labour standards.

In its 2012 Employment Package, the Commission underlined the role of the implementation of the Domestic Workers Convention in improving working conditions in personal services.

In June 2012, in the context of the EU Strategy towards the Eradication of Trafficking in Human Beings, the Commission urged Member States to ratify all relevant international instruments, agreements and legal obligations which will contribute to addressing trafficking in human beings in a more effective, coordinated and coherent manner, including the Domestic Workers Convention.

Furthermore, trade unions and non-governmental organisations have run an international campaign to promote the ratification of the Domestic Workers Convention.

Several Member States have indicated their intention to ratify swiftly the Domestic Workers Convention, which entered into force in September 2013. It was therefore necessary that any legal impediments for the ratification by Member States be removed at the level of the EU.

Following a proposal from the Commission, the Council also adopted a similar Decision as regards the Chemicals Convention (N°170) in November 2012.

As regards three other ILO Conventions adopted over the last decade, parts of which fell under the competence of the EU, the Council has already authorised Member States to ratify them, in the interests of the Union, in respect of those parts falling under Union competence. These are the Seafarers' Identity Documents Convention (N° 185), the Maritime Labour Convention 2006 and the Work in Fishing Convention (N° 188)

For more information

International Labour Organization: decent work for domestic workers

László Andor's website

Follow László Andor on Twitter

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Contacts :

Jonathan Todd (+32 2 299 41 07)

Cécile Dubois (+32 2 295 18 83)

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