The National Union of Domestic Employees (NUDE) is calling on Government to make the registration of domestic employees compulsory to ensure that employers comply with paying national insurance contributions for their employees.
At present, some 15,000 domestic workers are already covered under the National Insurance System (NIS), NUDE general secretary Ida Le Blanc told the Joint Select Committee on Finance and Legal Affairs looking into the union’s affairs and the NIS on Friday.
“However, we have a lot of domestic workers not registered with the NIS,” she told the JSC in Parliament.
Many employers have indicated a willingness to pay, Le Blanc said, but do not make it a priority.
In addition, while some just do not want to pay the NIS, she said, “Some employers come to me and say, ‘I have a worker for ten years. I cannot go back and pay for the ten years, because it comes with a penalty.’”
Some employers have suggested that the National Insurance Board (NIB) gives them an amnesty and they will pay their dues. “That is now up to the NIB,” Le Blanc said.
One of the problems the NIB faces, she said, is that when domestic workers go to see if their contributions are being made and employers are informed, the employees are fired.
Asked what redress employees have, Le Blanc said domestic workers are covered under the Household Assistant Order, under which they could resort to the Industrial Court or the Ministry of Labour.
She and another NUDE’s member represent the employees there. “We are not lawyers but have experience in labour issues.”
While the NIS is a great system, she said, she does not agree with the NIB’s last actuarial review’s proposal to move the compulsory pensionable age of all workers to 65 years from 60.
Domestic work is arduous, she said, as many do not only clean homes but are involved in care-giving. She tried to assist a domestic worker to lift a patient and could not, she said.
“When you reach 60, you feel the effects of these jobs on the body.”