Migrant Domestic Workers and the Right to a Private and Family Life
30 Pages Posted: 14 Sep 2019
Date Written: September 12, 2019
Domestic workers are mainly women, are disproportionately from ethnic minorities and/or international migrants, and are vulnerable to mistreatment, often receiving inadequate protection from labour legislation. This article addresses ways in which the conditions faced by migrant domestic workers can prevent their enjoyment of the right to private and family life. It argues that the focus on this right is illuminating as it allows for the incorporation of issues that are not usually within the remit of labour law into the discussion of working rights, such as access to family reunification, as well as providing for a different perspective on the question of limits on working time – a core labour right which is often denied to domestic workers. These issues are analysed by addressing a case study each from Latin America and Europe, namely Chile and the UK. The article considers impediments to realising the right to private and family life stemming both from the literal border – the operation of immigration controls and visa conditions – and from the figurative border which exists between domestic work and other types of work, reflected in the conflation of domestic workers with family members and stemming from the public/private sphere divide.
Keywords: domestic workers, labour, migration, borders, private life, family life, women
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