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Laws to increase employment age to 18 – Minister

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In the light of the recent incident involving the death of the 16-year-old domestic aide employed at the residence of an MP, Minister de Silva noted that steps have been taken to increase the minimum age for domestic workers to 18 years by amending the hazardous jobs list. The draft regulation is in the final stage with the Legal Draftsman’s Department and the Minister issued instructions to officials expedite the process.

A high-level meeting was organized yesterday under the chairmanship of Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva with the participation of representatives from the Labour Department, the Attorney General’s Department, the Justice Ministry, Child and Women’s Bureau, National Child Protection Authority, International Labour Organization and UNICEF. In concluding the meeting, the Minister said that enabling laws would be enacted and in some cases necessary regulations would be brought to :1. Register all domestic workers at the District Labour Office by their employers. 2. Cover domestic workers under the purview  of the National Minimum Wage Act to ensure the minimum wage. 3. Cover domestic workers under the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) and the Employees Trust Fund (ETF) by amending the relevant regulations.

4. Regulate working hours, resting period and leave. 5. Ensure a safe and fair working environment.

6. Ensure payment of reasonable gratuity when ceasing employment and 7. Introduce a “Code of Conduct” for domestic workers to ensure the quality of service provided by the worker.

The minister emphasised that the objectives of these proposals are not only to protect the rights of domestic workers but also to ensure the dignity of their profession.

Labour Ministry Secretary Mapa Pathirana, Labour Commissioner General Prabath Chandrakeerthi and representatives of several agencies participated in this discussion.

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