Home-Based Workers' Policies in Pakistan

Sindh Province Finalizes Policy

KARACHI, Sept 3: The Sindh government has prepared a final draft to legalise the rights of the home-based workers (HBWs), declaring them a ‘special category’ of workers, distinct from domestic workers. Read more. On May 21, 2013, a multi-stakeholder Task Force, comprised of representatives from organizations of home-based workers, trade unions, worker federations, the Employers Federation, the Department of Labour and other relevant government departments, prepared the draft Home-Based Workers Policy for the Sindh Province of Pakistan.

Read the provincial policy (in English).

Punjab Agrees to Home-Based Workers Policy

In March 2013, the Cabinet of the Punjab Provincial Government in Pakistan adopted a Home-Based Workers Policy, based on the 2012 Punjab Home-Based Workers Act, which recognizes home-based workers as “workers” and extends social protection to them.

Punjab is the first province in Pakistan to pass a law and policy for home-based workers. The Punjab Home-Based Workers Act and Policy include the major elements of the Draft National Policy for Home-Based Workers in Pakistan. Read the policy document.

HomeNet Pakistan, a national alliance of organizations of home-based workers and support organizations, has worked long and hard to advocate with government officials and parliamentarians, at both the provincial and federal levels, for the Punjab Provincial Act and Policy as well as the draft National Policy. The draft National Policy is under review by the Ministry of Human Rights. The outgoing government of Pakistan committed to endorsing the National Policy for Home-based Workers, giving them the status of workers.

In its recent recommendations to the Government of Pakistan and to the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), the CEDAW Committee in Pakistan included a recommendation (#30 - see below) that the Government of Pakistan adopt the National Policy on Home-Based Workers and ratify ILO Conventions No. 177 on home-based workers and ILO Convention No. 189 on domestic workers.

Text of Recommendation #30 

 The Committee recommends that the State party:

a) Adopt effective measures in the formal labour market, including temporary special measures, to increase female participation and eliminate both horizontal and vertical occupational segregation; to narrow and close the wage gap between women and men; and to ensure the application of the principle of equal remuneration for equal work and work of equal value, and equal opportunities at work.

b) Prepare a plan of action for the protection of women working in other areas of the informal sector, such as agriculture and domestic work, in line with the Convention;

c) Prioritize the adoption of the National Policy on Home Based Workers and ensure its proper implementation so as to guarantee women access to social security benefits; and, take measures to ensure that the correspondent policy is adopted by all Provinces in the State party; and

d) Ratify ILO Convention No. 177 on Home-based work, as well as ILO Convention No. 189 on decent work for domestic workers and amend the relevant domestic legislation accordingly.

National policy reform is also proposed. However,  a January 2014 article in The Express Tribune highlighted concern about the policy.

Additional Information

Do More Than Sloganeering! The Nation. 8 March, 2013.

HomeNet South Asia