Regulatory Innovations in the Governance of Decent Work for Domestic Workers in Côte D’Ivoire: Labour Administration and the Judiciary Under a Generalist Labour Code
Adelle Blackett with the collaboration of Assata Koné-Silué "Regulatory Innovation in the Governance of Decent Work for Domestic Workers in Côte d'Ivoire: Labour Administration and the Judiciary under a generalist Labour Code" LLDRL Working Paper Series WP #6 (2016)
37 Pages Posted: 3 Mar 2017
This study looks closely at Ivoirian initiatives to acknowledge and redress the paradox of domestic workers’ simultaneous ubiquity and invisibility. It takes a close look at the nature and quality of domestic workers’ inclusion under the generalist labour law framework. In some contexts, including neighbouring Ghana, it has been affirmed that domestic workers may textually be included in a generalist code, but in practice, excluded from its application. This study has shed light on a more complex dynamic at play in Côte d’Ivoire. Without a doubt, the prevalence of domestic work undertaken under particularly precarious conditions attests to the significance of domestic workers’ marginalization under labour law. However, the working paper similarly reveals that inclusion under the Labour Code, and specialized institutions dedicated to the enforcement of workers’ rights, is not a mere chimera. On the contrary, throughout one of the most destabilizing moments in Côte d’Ivoire’s history, during the crisis from 1999–2011, the labour administration and the specialized labour tribunal regularly addressed an appreciable number of cases of domestic workers’ rights under the employment relationship. Coupled with the interviews conducted for this study, we were able to identify a sensitivity amongst the labour inspectorate, as well as some jurisprudential evolution affirming that domestic workers are workers like any other, to whom key aspects of general labour law should apply. However, the application of the Labour Code and related labour laws to domestic workers was limited in its depth and breadth. The case law showed a solid appreciation of basic employer obligations that might lead to termination, as well as the variety of termination damages that an employee may claim. In some cases the courts attentively applied the minimum wage provisions or awarded the employee indemnities for the employer’s failure to register the domestic worker for social security protections. However, the inquiry stopped short when the specificity of the domestic work paradigm – as witnessed through working time law and the live in relationship – was more squarely before the courts. It is not surprising, therefore, that labour relations and civil society actors continue to call for specific regulation of decent work for domestic workers in Côte d’Ivoire, and that an initiative to adopt a special decree on domestic workers is underway. We argue that there is a need for initiatives on decent work for domestic workers to be built through multi-level social dialogue, to ensure that the legislative and regulatory initiatives are informed both by the generalist courts’ decisions, by the international standard setting and by domestic workers’ transnational social movements.
Keywords: Domestic Workers, Labour Law, Decent Work, Labour Code, Côte D'Ivoire, Transnational Social Movements,
JEL Classification: F16, F62, F66, J01, i31, J46, J47, J49, J61, J81, J83, K30, K31
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