By Mohamed Hikal
By Mohamed Hikal
Rabat – A new law regulating housemaids in Morocco has left some activists outraged that minors can continue working as domestic workers.
The law went into effect Tuesday, October 2.
The new law aims to regulate domestic labor and give workers control over their situation.
The most controversial point of the law is the section allowing minors, aged 16 to 18, to work as domestic workers. For minors, the law requires the consent of parents or guardians. Minors can work no more than 40 hours per week maximum and can do no work that could be unsafe for their health.
Civil rights associations condemned the law for allowing minors to work as domestic workers. They stated that it is a violation of minors’ rights and international conventions.
The provision for minors is temporary and will sunset in 2023 when minors will no longer be allowed to work as domestic workers.
There are no exact statistics regarding the number of children working as domestic workers in Morocco, but the National Council for Human Rights revealed in 2014 that there were 174 minors aged 5 to 15 who worked as domestic workers in 2010.
Human Rights Watch investigated the domestic labor situation in Morocco between 2005 and 2012. The study concluded, “Girls as young as 8 endure physical abuse and work long hours for little pay as domestic workers.”
The new law requires employers to sign a contract with clear employment conditions.
The law prevents domestic workers from legally working more than 48 hours per week. The law entitles domestic workers to one day off weekly and a monthly wage of at least MAD 1,548.
Domestic workers have the right to take religious and national holidays and a paid vacation. They also have the right to severance pay in case of dismissal.
Traditionally, domestic workers in Morocco, often referred to as “servants,” work up to 12 hours per day cleaning, cooking, shopping, and looking after children. They usually come from poor rural areas. Some domestic workers are as young as six, and some are over 60 years old.
Typically, domestic workers do not have paid sick leave and vacations. They could be fired at any time without severance pay. Many are subject to verbal and physical abuse and sexual harassment.