House leadership decision on domestic worker protection bill faces backlash

The House of Representatives Speaker has come under fire for using an outdated conclusion as a reason not to kick-start a new legislation.

Nur Janti

Nur Janti

The Jakarta Post


A domestic worker washes dishes in a kitchen in July 2019. The House of Representatives Legislation Body (Baleg) has agreed to initiate a bill on domestic workers’ protection that is expected to provide the legal basis for their well-being. (JP/Ricky Yudhistira)

March 14, 2023

JAKARTA – The House of Representatives Legislation Body (Baleg) has decided on Wednesday to initiate a bill on domestic workers’ protection after more than a decade of back-and-forth deliberation.

The chairman of the bill’s working committee, Willy Aditya, said the body had agreed to endorse it as a bill initiated by the House in the upcoming plenary session.

“We’ve conducted numerous hearings with experts, labor activists and scholars as well as intensive and in-depth discussions in the working committee meetings,” the NasDem Party politician said on Wednesday.

The bill, a copy of which was obtained by The Jakarta Post, contains several key matters, including provisions on direct and indirect recruitment of domestic workers as well as their rights, such as the right to education provided by their placement agencies and administered by the government.

Placement agencies that do not provide education for the workers could face administrative sanctions ranging from a warning to a revocation of their permits.

It also regulates criminal provisions to protect the workers from discrimination, exploitation, harassment and violence by employers and placement agencies, both of whom could face up to eight years of imprisonment or fines of Rp 125 million if found guilty of committing such abuse.

A number of parties, including representatives from the National Network for Domestic Workers Advocacy (Jala PRT), the National Commission on Violence Against Women (Komnas Perempuan), the Jakarta representative of the International Labor Organization (ILO), the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) and several sociologists were reportedly involved in discussions on the bill with the House.

The House had drafted the bill in 2013 but halted the process in 2014.

In 2019, Jala PRT proposed a draft for a domestic workers protection bill to the House, citing the lack of regulations as the main cause of increasing cases of violence against domestic workers in Indonesia.

They emphasized several aspects to be included in the bill, such as legally acknowledging domestic workers and establishing better working conditions, dispute settlement between workers and employers, a worker’s union and a government oversight system.

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