The situation for domestic workers and migrant domestic workers
Like other countries in the world, Cambodia does not have any specific law governing domestic workers who work for households both inside and outside Cambodia. However, Cambodian domestic workers can enjoy the right to form a trade union and the provisions on freedom of union under the 1997 Cambodian Labor Law are also applied to domestic workers. Despite significant contribution to the Cambodian macro-economy, legal protection for domestic workers is not sufficient and there is a need to revisit the existing regulations and mechanisms to ensure that they are in compliance with the International Labour Organization's strategy for decent work for all. Based on the analysis of these regulations, the NGO working groups find that the current domestic law does not do enough to ensure certain provisions for domestic workers. Examples of the gaps in the law include no provisions for minimum wage, working hours, and decent working conditions (i.e. adequate food and accommodation if applicable). There are no provision for paid annual leave, social security, and notice periods in the event of employment termination. In addition to requiring stronger legal protections, there is a need for further education for those that are vulnerable to exploitation.
Cambodian domestic workers comprise a significant part of the national workforce in informal employment and are among the most vulnerable groups of workers. According to the Cambodian Development Research Institute (CDRI) and the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training of Cambodia, there are around 250,000 domestic workers working within the country and around 100,000 migrant domestic workers working in Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore. The study shows that domestic workers and migrant domestic workers contribute to improving the living conditions of their families, the alleviation of poverty, and the decreased unemployment in Cambodia. They work for private households, often without clear terms of employment; they are unregistered and are excluded from the scope of Cambodian labour law, which was adopted in 1997. The number of domestic workers is increasing rapidly due to the need of domestic workers for each private household in Cambodia and abroad. Under age employment for domestic workers also indicates the involvement of child labour in the industry, which is against the government's commitment to address the issue of child labour in Cambodia.
Deplorable working conditions, labour exploitation, and human rights abuses are some of the major problems facing domestic workers. The result is social, cultural, economic, and health violations among local and migrant domestic workers. Such violations and abuses among Cambodian domestic workers lead to physical, mental and social repercussions. This creates a barrier for the government of Cambodia's strategy toward the reduction of poverty and unemployment, and economic growth in Cambodia.
LSCW in partnership with Danchurch Aid is running a project to promote the protection of decent work and living conditions for Cambodian domestic workers, migrant domestic workers and migrant workers. This project focuses on advocacy efforts directed at the government of Cambodia and other relevant stakeholders to push for the adoption of new policies, laws and regulations to promote and protect the rights of domestic workers, migrant workers domestic workers and migrant workers. In addition, the project aims to mobilize, organize and empower Cambodian female migrant workers who have returned from abroad by giving them the space to advocate and voice their own concerns in relation to these rights protections. See our CFMN program for more information of how LSCW facilitates the empowerment of returnee migrants.