Govt. Looking at Legislation to Better Protect Household Workers
Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Portia Simpson Miller, says the Government is looking at legislation to better protect household workers who continue to provide valuable and essential services to many families across Jamaica.
She assured that the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, with support from her office and the relevant stakeholders, “will work towards the policy framework and will discuss the possibility of domestic worker legislation.”
Mrs. Simpson Miller was speaking at the GraceKennedy/Heather Little-White Household Worker of the Year Award ceremony, held at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in New Kingston, on May 29.
The Prime Minister said Jamaica supports Convention 189 of the International Labour Organization (ILO), which was adopted in 2011 for the protection of domestic workers globally.
“(We are) taking the necessary steps to officially ratify it (the Convention) as further demonstration of our support for the Decent Work Agenda of the ILO,” she added.
The Prime Minister pointed out that putting the required policy framework in place will allow for Jamaica’s ratification of the Convention.
Mrs. Simpson Miller said the move towards establishing domestic worker legislation is crucial, given the many issues household workers in Jamaica face, such as long working hours without adequate compensation, low wages, and poor working conditions. Some are also vulnerable to verbal, physical, and sexual harassment.
She noted that domestic workers “occupy a vital position of trust” and should be respected and treated fairly. She pointed specifically to the issue of minimum wage, stressing that “persons who can afford to pay more should pay more for the important service that household workers provide.”
The Prime Minister commended GraceKennedy for its initiative to recognise household workers who are integral and essential to society and are “worthy to be celebrated.”
“Although they are part of the backbone of our country, they are seldom, if ever, singled out for special recognition or assistance. Thank you GraceKennedy,” she said.
In the meantime, Rosetta Steer, topped a field of 120 nominees to walk away with the coveted prize of the GraceKennedy/Heather Little-White Household Worker of the Year Award. In second place was Jasmine Miller, while third place went to Charmaine Smith.
Ms. Steer received $250,000 from GraceKennedy, an account with $25,000 from First Global Bank, and a $30,000 gift voucher from Hi-Lo Food Stores.
As part of her prize, Ms. Steer will also choose a secondary student whose educational expenses will be funded by GraceKennedy for a year.
Sums of $150,000 and $100,000 from GraceKennedy; $25,000 account each from First Global Bank; and Hi-Lo gift vouchers valued at $20,000 and $10,000 were given to the second and third placed recipients, respectively.
The GraceKennedy/Heather Little-White Household Worker of the Year Award, which was staged for the first time last year, seeks to recognise and reward Jamaica’s household workers.
It is held in honour of the late food and nutrition specialist, Dr. Heather Little-White, for her years of service to GraceKennedy, as well as her work in training household workers, and her dedication to the improvement of their skills and lives.