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Indonesia: Domestic Worker Legislation Under Consideration

(June 3, 2013) On May 28, 2013, Lita Anggraini, the coordinator of the Indonesian National Network for Domestic Workers Advocacy (Jala PRT, an NGO network) urged the country’s legislature to finalize the draft law on protection of domestic workers. Anggraini pointed out that domestic workers are frequently abused and that a law is required to protect their rights. She described several recent cases in which workers were beaten or forced to work without pay, stating that such treatment “constitutes a violation against human rights and the rights of the domestic workers. … It is also a criminal offense.” (Govt Told to Speed up Domestic Workers Law, THE JAKARTA POST (May 28, 2013).)

Isabelle Arradon of Amnesty International, marking Indonesia’s National Day for Domestic Workers on February 15, 2013, described the problems of such workers as occurring worldwide. She urged the Indonesian government to adopt legislation to help the workers and noted that domestic employees have “poor working conditions, pitiful salaries and a lack of legal protection that leaves them at the mercy of employers.” (Isabelle Arradon, Bringing Indonesian Domestic Workers Out of Legal Limbo, THE JAKARTA POST (Feb. 15, 2013).)

Arradon noted that as of 2010, there were 2.4 million domestic workers in the country and that more than half were women, with some being under the age of 18. (Id.) According to Jala PRT, there were more than 650 cases of mistreatment of domestic workers between 2011 and 2012. (Id.)

Indonesia has had a law on domestic employees under consideration at least since 2012, when Human Rights Watch noted the plan to enact such legislation. (2012: A Year of Progress for Domestic Workers, HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH (Jan. 10, 2013).) The current law on labor-management relations, the Manpower Act of 2003, does not explicitly address domestic work situations, and it has been interpreted by the Indonesian government as not applying to household work. (Act of the Republic of Indonesia Number 13, 2003, Concerning Manpower, NATLEX [database of the International Labour Organization (ILO)]; Protection of Indonesian Domestic Workers: Awareness Raising at National and Local Level, ILO (last visited May 29, 2013).)