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IOM Jointly with ILO, UN Women and FLEP Organize a Roundtable Discussion with Domestic Workers on Social Security in Thailand

Bangkok - On 3 April 2022, the International Organization for Migration (IOM), in collaboration with the International Labour Organization (ILO), the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women), and the Foundation for Labour and Employment Promotion (FLEP), organized a Roundtable Discussion with Domestic Workers on the Policy Review of Social Security for Domestic Workers in Thailand.  

Domestic workers, the majority of whom are migrants, make a significant contribution to Thai society and the economy. They are at the forefront of caring for families and households in Thailand, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite the benefits their services bring, domestic workers are not included in the formal economy with little to no access to social security protection. 

“Social security is important as it reduces uncertainty across one’s life cycle, such as in the event of sickness or old age. With this in mind, we must incorporate the specific characteristics and needs of domestic workers, like any other workers, when designing social security interventions,” Dr. Boonsom Namsomboon, Secretary-General at the FLEP, emphasized in her opening remarks.  

This roundtable brought together 17 domestic workers (10 Thais and 7 migrants) to share their perceptions, experiences, and aspirations in relation to social security in Thailand and to discuss recommendations for a more inclusive coverage.  

During the discussion, the domestic workers highlighted inadequate entitlements to social security as the main barrier to decent livelihoods. This included, for example, the right to retirement benefits and maternity protection, such as maternity leave and employment protection for pregnant domestic workers. They also noted the lack of unemployment benefits and other support in the current context of COVID-19, such as for the reduction or nonpayment of wages, increased workload, maltreatment by their employers, and coerced confinement in their workplaces. 

In addition, the domestic workers discussed challenges when obtaining social security benefits. Among the key issues raised were the complex and time-consuming procedure of claiming benefits, discriminatory treatment by service providers, and limited access to information, including translated materials and interpretation services in the languages of migrants. 

At the end of the discussion, the participants identified a set of recommendations to address the existing challenges and enhance social security coverage among domestic workers. This included revising legislation to ensure equal access for domestic workers, simplifying the claiming process, conducting an awareness-raising campaign, including in the languages of migrants, and ensuring portability of acquired benefits for migrant domestic workers upon return.  

The roundtable discussion will contribute to the development of policy recommendations for a joint UN report on the policy review of social security for domestic workers in Thailand.  

This initiative is part of the United Nations Joint Programme on Social Protection for All in Thailand, funded by the Joint SDG Fund and implemented by IOM, ILO, UN Women, and UNICEF. 

For more information, please contact Vivian LIANG, Programme Manager, at hliang@iom.int