BY IRENE LAMUNU
Many homes stand because of Domestic workers, however few are appreciated. Domestic workers are an essential part of many households in Uganda, especially in situations where both husband and wife go out to
search for a living. Children cannot be left alone at home; someone has to take care of them while doing the house chores. Many families in Uganda with domestic workers don’t consider them an integral part of the
family. Housemaids are treated as outsiders and many undergo unfair treatment from their bosses both female and male.
Some have gone through verbal and physical abuse, assault and sexual harassment. Recently, one of the outstanding cases of harassment of maids turned out when former Member of Parliament for Busiro South, Peter Sematimba was accused of sexual harassment by his former housemaid, Namatovu Joan. Just like Namatovu, many maids have faced sexual harassment from male and female bosses but fear to come out and accuse them. Aciro Brenda was brought from Kitgum to work as a housemaid in Kampala. She said her experience with her bosses was very unfortunate. She would wake up at 4.30am earlier than everyone in the house and begin the chores, getting children ready for school. She would only rest after doing all the chores when the rest of the family members have gone to bed. Aciro added that she was verbally abused by her female boss every day. Likewise, Namusisi Agnes said her female boss was a very tough woman who never allowed her to get close to the other family members. Namusisi was not allowed to dine with the rest of the family and to watch
television. She added that she worked for two years but did not get any holiday. She decided to start work as a housemaid because her parents could not afford school fees. Like Namusisi, many domestic workers work
because they have failed to afford school fees, while some are orphans.
Another big problem faced by these boys and girls is low pay and exploitation by their employers. At the moment, Uganda has no law regulating the minimum wage, which was last updated in 1984 and set at UGX 6,000. A new Minimum Wage Bill was tabled in the parliament for discussion in 2015. Compliance with minimum wage is ensured by the labour inspectorates. If an employer fails to pay the required remuneration to an employee or fails to observe any of the conditions of employment prescribed in the order, he or she commits an offense and is liable on conviction to a fine of at least 500 shillings for each offense. This law cannot help improve the situation of a maid in the country. Some of them are subjected to HIV tests before they get employment. Jacqueline Angeyo from Pader said before she was put on a bus, her then-tobe employer asked that she does an HIV test as it was one of the qualifications for her to get the job.
Another Challenge is work without contracts which makes it easy for their
bosses to exploit them. Some get as low as UGX 30,000 per month and the lucky ones are paid UGX 100,000 or more. Namirimu Yudaya has worked with a family in Kampala for five years. She said the only thing keeping her in the home is that she is paid ugx 100,000 and usually paid on time. Her bosses also gift her with clothes, shoes and other things though, she has no breaks (even sick leave) or holidays except during Christmas. She added that for Christmas holiday, she is supposed to leave on 24th December and
return on 27th December. Unlike many domestic workers who don’t get medical treatment from their bosses, Namirimu was lucky that her
bosses gave her medical treatment. In December 2020, the Daily Monitor
published an article titled; Employers, maids to sign agreements about
“Employment (Domestic Workers) Regulations 2020.” The guidelines sought
to control the relationship between workers and employers to enhance
labour standards and productivity among domestic workers.
“For safety and security reasons, eligible domestic workers will be expected to identify themselves by scanning the national identity cards or passports or any relevant identification document, including letters from the chairperson,” reads the draft regulation. According to the draft regulation, domestic workers were supposed to have a written contract with their employers and the guidelines on the provisions of the employment contract
shall be provided for consistency. In the same article, the Daily Monitor is quoted stating that, under the maiden regulation, domestic work shall be declared open to all interested adult workers, irrespective of sex, age, religion, race and education. Senior officials in the Ministry of Labour, Gender and Social Development (MGLSD) said the Domestic Workers’ Regulations provides for recruitment agencies to obtain a permit from the commissioner responsible for labour upon meeting the requirements. Ministry of Labour legal officer, Vanessa Ngabo presented the regulation at the stakeholders’ consultation and said all homes that employ domestic workers should have a clear grievance handling procedure. Meanwhile, Ms. Hanifa Katwesigye, the leader of the Domestic Workers Association, said many domestic workers are mistreated and marginalized. She added that they want government to recognize domestic workers because of their contribution to the economy, they want the employment law to look
at their work, the time of working, leave, remuneration and welfare.
The assistant commissioner for labour inspectorate, Mr. Bernard Amuriat, said: “Government has to protect and promote the rights of all workers. Because of this mandate, we have also started reviewing the Employment Act to, among other things, protect domestic workers.” He revealed that the government decided to come up with regulations to safeguard domestic workers from abuse and exploitation and define domestic work alongside other rights, such as proper remuneration.“Majority of domestic workers have no employment contracts but the regulation gives one a right to access a contract,” Mr. Amuriat added.
Oct 06, 2021 0Bishop Emeritus Rt Rev Egidio Nkaijanabwo, was the first...
Oct 06, 2021 0BY FR. ANTHONY K. KIBIRA MCCJ Pope Francis, through the convocation of the Synod on Synodality (2021-23), is inviting the entire Church to reflect on a theme that is decisive for its life and mission. As Chruch, we have...
Jul 16, 2021 0By Fr Arasu Lazar SDB The International Day of Non-Violence is celebrated on 2nd October. This day is chosen in honour of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, popularly called, Mahatma Gandhi, who was born on this day in 1869....
Jun 11, 2021 0Pope Francis said that the two-year process leading to the 2023 synod onsynodality is not about “gathering opinions,” but “listening to the Holy Spirit.” Addressing Catholics from the Diocese of Rome on Sept....