Myanmar pledges to provide legal protection for domestic workers abroad

  • This photo taken on July 6, 2017 shows migrant workers who returned from Thailand waiting for buses at the Myanmar imigration office in Myawaddy. With only meagre belongings stuffed into backpacks and duffel bags, tens of thousands of Myanmar migrants have streamed home across the Thai border over the past two weeks. But it is not a joyous homecoming for the truckloads of men and women, who fled Thailand in fear of a new law that hardens penalties on the millions of undocumented migrant workers underpinning its economy. / AFP PHOTO / Ye Aung THU / TO GO WITH Myanmar-Thailand-economy, FOCUS by Phyo Hein KYAW and Marion THIBAUT

The Ministry of Labour, Immigration and Population of Myanmar has pledged to legalize the status of Myanmar housemaids working abroad without proper documentation in order to provide them with legal protection, The Irrawaddy Online reported on Thursday (Aug 10).

Minister U Thein Swe acknowledged that traffickers and agents have been sending female domestic workers to foreign countries illegally since his ministry has ceased to provide such work documentation since 2014.

Because of language barriers and very few chances to communicate with other organizations outside of their employers’ houses, he said the housemaids were unable to get the legal rights of the host countries.

The minister also acknowledged the need for a separate law dedicated to preventing and tackling abuse, exploitation and debt bondage carried out by employers against housemaids.  

He admitted that there are limitations in trying to collect information about such workers and to investigate allegations of violations by employers due to the nature of domestic work.

According to the ministry, there are about 40,000 Myanmar domestic workers in Singapore.

On June 16, 2011, the International Labour Organization adopted a landmark treaty, the Convention of Decent Work for Domestic Workers, which laid out the rights of domestic workers.