In 2020, the Domestic Workers Regulations, 2020 (LI 2408) (“Regulations”) was passed to provide protection for domestic workers. Two years after its passage, there is very little public awareness of the Regulations. This article discusses highlights of the Regulations for domestic workers and their employees.
Definition of a domestic worker: A domestic worker includes a person engaged to undertake duties including household chores, babysitting, driving, gardening, assistance with petty trading and security services.
Employment terms: The terms of an employment contract of a domestic worker must be in writing. The contract must state the frequency and mode of payment of wages, lodging and meals to be provided (if any), hours of work and rest periods, duties of the domestic worker, as well as training and skills to be provided. Health care requirements including registration under the National Health Insurance Scheme, pre-employment and post-termination medical examinations to be undertaken, background checks required and referees and guarantors to be contacted must also be stated.
If the domestic worker is illiterate, the employer must ensure that the employment contract is read and explained to the domestic worker in a language that the worker understands before the domestic worker thumbprints or signs the contract.
The employer must deposit the employment contract with the District Labour Officer within a month of its execution. Any amendments to the contract must be deposited with the District Labour Officer within two weeks of making them. A contract with terms less favourable than the provisions of the Regulations is void.
Working hours: The maximum working hours for a domestic worker is sixteen hours a day and six days a week. Rest periods must be at least eight hours between two consecutive working days and twenty-four consecutive hours rest every week. Hours beyond the maximum hours must be paid as overtime. This means that if the domestic worker starts work at 4:00 am daily, the worker must close work by 8:00 pm. The worker must rest for at least eight hours before the next working day starts at 4:00 am. Any work done beyond 8:00 pm will be counted as overtime for which the worker will be entitled to be paid. The domestic worker is entitled to a break within the working day. The domestic worker must not work overtime unless the employer has agreed fixed rates for overtime with the worker.
Rights of a domestic worker:
The domestic worker is entitled to:
- join a trade union;
- wages not less than the minimum daily wage. The current minimum wage is GHS 13.53;
- annual leave of a minimum of fifteen working days, sick leave as certified by a medical doctor and maternity leave of three months;
- paid leave on public holidays. If the domestic worker works on a public holiday, they must be paid double the amount of the normal wage;
- be registered for pension; and
- decent living conditions that guarantee safety and privacy of the domestic worker, including toilet and bath facilities and adequate food (if provided) where they live in or on the premises with their employers.
Sexual harassment and ill-treatment: A domestic worker should not be subjected to sexual harassment or ill-treatment. A domestic worker may report a case of sexual harassment or domestic violence to the District Labour Officer, the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) or the Police. If a domestic worker terminates the employment for sexual harassment or domestic violence and lodges a complaint with the District Labour Officer, the latter can direct the employer to pay to the domestic worker two months’ salary, any outstanding salary and the cost of accommodation for a month (in the case of live-in domestic workers) and other appropriate benefits. The domestic worker may also seek any other relief in court.
Grounds for termination: The contract of employment of a domestic worker may be terminated by mutual agreement between the parties, by the employer due to ill health or injury of the domestic worker and incompetence or the proven misconduct of the domestic worker. The employment of a domestic worker is considered unfairly terminated if the domestic worker terminates the employment because of ill-treatment or the employer’s inaction on repeated complaints of sexual harassment of the worker by the occupants of the household.
Dispute resolution: Disputes relating to the employment of a domestic worker may be resolved in accordance with the Alternative Dispute Resolution Act, 2010 (Act 798).
The Labour Department is responsible for the monitoring and enforcement of the Regulations.