1. Health and safety in a private household working environment
Similar to any other type of workers, domestic workers are entitled to a safe and healthy working environment. The employer of a domestic worker must ensure, upon hire and throughout the service period, that a domestic worker’s work environment is free from health and safety risks. Any foreseen risk should be attended to by applying the necessary preventative measures to avoid accidents and causalities at the workplace.
What are the duties of an employer?
An employer of a domestic worker must provide an appropriate uniform, as well as appropriate and effective personal protective equipment (PPEs), e.g. gloves, to his/her domestic worker immediately upon hire, free of charge. The employer must replace such uniform and PPEs at reasonable intervals. An employer is also required to provide health and safety induction training to the domestic worker as well as information on how to safely operate service appliances and material in the household.
What are the rights and duties of a domestic worker?
A domestic worker must take reasonable care to ensure his/her own health and safety as well as for those under his/her care while on duty. A domestic worker must cooperate with his/her employer in ensuring and maintaining a safe working environment. A domestic worker must immediately alert his/her employer upon noticing a potential health and safety hazard or after encountering an accident while at work.
What should an employer do in case of an accident at work?
An employer should ensure that a domestic worker has received immediate medical care. An employer must, in Form ECL2: EMPLOYER’S REPORT OF ACCIDENT, obtainable from the Social Security Commission, report any accident involving his/her domestic worker to the Commission. An employer must also, in Form F. 5: NOTIFICATION OF ACCIDENTS AND DANGEROUS INCIDENTS, obtainable from the Ministry of Labour, Industrial Relations and Employment Creation, notify the Ministry in case of a serious or fatal accident.
2. A written employment contract is a MUST for all domestic workers
The Wage Order for domestic workers requires an employer to, upon hiring a domestic worker, enter into a written contract, with the domestic worker, and provide a copy to such domestic worker. The contract of employment sets out the agreed terms and conditions of employment.
What does the contract of employment entail?
The contract of employment must include, among others, the details of both the domestic worker and the employer, as well as the terms and conditions of employment as agreed between the employer and the domestic worker, such as nature of employment, place of work, duties, days and hours of work, remuneration rates, and leave days. It is unlawful to have an employment contract that sets out conditions of employment less favourable than those stipulated by the Wage Order or Labour Act.
Is a verbal contract sufficient?
The Labour Act has not specified the allowable form of the employment contract, however the Wage Order for domestic workers explicitly prescribes a written employment contract for domestic workers that must be signed by both the employer and employee. The Wage Order further requires the employer to ensure that the contract is explained to the domestic worker in a language that the domestic worker understands before he/she signs. It is unlawful to require or force a domestic worker to sign a contract before he/she understands and agrees with its content. A domestic worker who cannot read and/or write may use a fingerprint to validate the contract. A contract template has been developed by the Ministry of Labour, Industrial Relations and Employment Creation and is available free of charge.
How long should the employer keep the copy of the employment contract?
The employer of a domestic worker must keep a copy of a contract for a period of the most recent five years of employment of the domestic worker. It is advisable that the employer keeps the copy of such contract at least five years after the termination of employment.
What are the additional statutory requirements that one needs to take into consideration when entering into a contract of employment?
The employer must ensure that the contract of employment has taken cognizance of other relevant laws such as Social Security Act; Immigration Control Act; and the Employees Compensation Act.
• For more information on the Wage Order for Domestic Workers, visit the Ministry’s website: www.mol.gov.na or our promotional partner New Era Publication Corporation (NEPC)’s website: https://www.nepc.com.na/wage-order-for-domestic-workers/. Any query may be forwarded to Domestic.Workers@mol.gov.na, SMS line 66111, Tel: 061 20669111, or Fax: 061 212323.