Helping Hands: Regulating the Domestic Work Sector of Ghana.

Helping Hands: Regulating the Domestic Work Sector of Ghana.

The Labour Act, 2003 (Act 651) [1] (the “Act”) defines a domestic worker as “a person who is not a member of the family of a person who employs him or her as a househelp”. In effect, a person who is employed to perform domestic chores in any home or domestic setting, do informal work in the home, provide assistance in petty commercial activity, security services and gardening, child minding and food preparation qualifies as a domestic worker where the person in question is not a family member of the employer.[2]

Beyond defining who a domestic worker is, Act 651, Ghana’s primary legislation for the regulation of labour and employment issues in Ghana, offers limited protections to domestic workers as they are exempt from the provisions on maximum working hours limit; overtime pay; and rest periods; which are afforded workers in general under the Act[3]. This has led to calls in recent times for a recognition of domestic work as legitimate work and the need for a separate piece of legislation to regulate the employment relationship within the context of domestic work. In response, the Labour (Domestic Workers’) Regulations, 2020 (L.I. 2408) has been passed to establish a governance framework for the regulation of domestic staffing, pursuant to Section 174 of Act 651. In this blogpost, we focus on nine (9) highlights of L.I. 2408 that domestic workers and their employers must pay heed to:

  1. Model Contract of Employment

L.I. 2408 requires the domestic work relationship to be governed by a standard contract of employment. This protects both parties and formalizes the terms that are binding on parties within that particular arrangement.[4] To ensure compliance, the law further requires the employer to deposit the contract with the appropriate District Labour Officer for registration within one (1) month after execution[5].

  1. Wages and Benefits

The new law pegs the minimum salary of a domestic worker at the National Daily Minimum wage. Additionally, the agreed remuneration as well as any benefits-in-kind to be provided by the employer must be clearly stated in the employment contract.[6] Further, a domestic worker is entitled to overtime pay for work done outside agreed hours of work.[7]

  1. Social Security Contributions of the Worker

Another measure introduced by L.I. 2408 is the requirement for an employer to pay Social Security contributions on behalf of a domestic worker from the wages of that worker.[8] The employer may opt to register the domestic worker as an informal employee and pay periodic contributions.[9]

  1. Living Standards

Where a domestic worker lives with the employer, the employer is mandated by law to provide that worker with decent conditions that guarantee privacy and safety, adequate food and access to places of convenience.[10] The employer must also ensure that the domestic worker is not subjected to sexual harassment or violence at the workplace.[11] Where the employer provides medical care for the domestic worker, the employer is to ensure that the worker is registered under a Health Insurance Scheme.[12]

  1. Termination of Contract of Employment

In conformity with Act 651[13], the contract of a domestic worker may be terminated without assigning reasons but with  prior notice or salary in lieu of notice.[14] Where the domestic worker is illiterate, the parties to the contract must notify the appropriate District Labour Officer in accordance with Act 651.[15] If the domestic worker terminates the contract on grounds of sexual harassment, the domestic worker is entitled to a minimum of two (2) months’ salary and all outstanding salaries due the domestic worker, and lodging expenses for one month where that worker lives on the premises of the employer.[16]

  1. Training of Employees

Where an employer decides to train a domestic worker, that training is required to be relevant to the employment of the worker. The training may be formal or informal as agreed by the parties. However, it shall be at the expense of the employer.[17]

  1. Public Holidays

Domestic workers are entitled to leave from work on statutory public holidays with full daily wage. However, where a domestic worker is required to work on such days, the worker must be paid double the amount due for a normal day of work.[18]

  1. Rest Periods

Employers must ensure that domestic workers are granted at least eight (8) consecutive hours daily rest period and where the work is of a continuous nature, the worker must be given at least thirty (30) minutes of rest in the course of the work. In addition to these rest periods, the worker is entitled to a break of at least twenty-four (24) hours each week.[19]

  1. Leave

Domestic workers are entitled to sick leave, maternity leave and not less than fifteen (15) working days’ leave with full pay in a year.[20]

In conclusion, L.I. 2408 promotes better working conditions for domestic workers and seeks to protect their well-being. The new law ensures that the terms of the domestic worker-employer relationship align with the protection offered to general workers under Act 651.

[1] The Labour Act, s. 175.

[2] The Labour (Domestic Workers’) Regulations, 2020 (LI 2408) reg. 22.

[3] Ibid. note 1 at s. 44.

[4] Ibid. note 2 at reg. 3.

[5] Ibid. at reg. 4.

[6] Ibid. at reg. 6.

[7] Ibid. at reg. 6 (4).

[8] Ibid. at reg. 7(3).

[9] Ibid. at reg. 7.

[10] Ibid. at reg. 8.

[11] Ibid. at reg.17.

[12] Ibid. at reg. 11.

[13] Ibid. note 1 at s. 15 & 17.

[14] Ibid. note 2 at reg. 18 (1).

[15] Ibid. at reg. 18 (2).

[16] Ibid. at reg. 18 (4) & (5).

[17] Ibid. at reg.16.

[18] Ibid. at reg. 13.

[19] Ibid. at reg. 9.

[20] Ibid. at reg. 10 & 12.

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