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Tamkeen calls for restoring domestic workers’ right to resign

By Rana Husseini - Jun 16,2023 - Last updated at Jun 16,2023

Representative image (Photo courtesy of Freepik/jcomp)

AMMAN — A local organisation on Thursday called for stricter measures to protect the rights of foreign domestic workers in Jordan.

In a specialised report that was prepared by the Tamkeen for Legal Aid and Human Rights Organisation on the occasion of the International Domestic Workers Day, the organisation called for easing the process for domestic workers who wish to change employers.

The report called for allowing transfers in employment without having to obtain a waiver from the first employer. 

In addition, the report called for creating an effective complaints mechanism to seriously study and verify each complaint. The organisation also stressed the need to restore foreign workers’ right to resign within the law, taking into account the balance between the rights and duties of both the employer and the worker.

“There is a need to raise legal awareness among the employers and employees to safeguard the rights of all parties,” said a Tamkeen statement sent to The Jordan Times.

The International Domestic Workers Day is observed annually on June 16, since the ratification of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Convention on Decent Work for Domestic Workers (No. 189) in 2011.

The report called on the concerned entities to adopt serious measures towards securing decent working and living conditions for domestic workers in Jordan.

The ILO defines domestic workers as workers who perform work in or for a private household or households.

They provide direct and indirect care services, and thereby are key members of the care economy. Their work may include tasks such as cleaning the house, cooking, washing and ironing clothes, taking care of children, elderly or sick members of a family, gardening, watching over the house, driving for the family and even taking care of household pets.

According to the report, an estimated 52,221 documented female domestic workers resided in Jordan in 2021, of whom 23,742 were Ethiopians, 11,212 were from the Philippines and 7,009 were from Bangladesh. 

Some of the foreign workers, according to Tamkeen, are subjected to several violations, “including the deprivation of freedom of movement, seizing their passports, declining to pay their wages, depriving them from food and healthcare, physical assaults and depriving them from holidays, among other violations”.

The report listed several obstacles that hinder foreign labourers from reaching their full rights, such as “a lack of necessary information, lack of translators at police stations and forgetting or not knowing the name of the agency that brought them to the country”.

 “Such circumstances deprive the foreign labourers from filing a complaint against their employers,” the report stated.

Tamkeen has previously stated that it received over 730 complaints from domestic workers between the years 2020 and 2022.

The complaints ranged from “preventing domestic workers from travelling, and failure to pay them their salaries, among other violations”.

The local organisation also received cases in which domestic workers complained of being deprived of healthcare, holidays, food and contact with their families, as well being subjected to violence and insults.

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