Special Reports

Domestic Work Legislation in the Gulf  Cooperation Council (GCC): A Comparative  Policy Review

Domestic Work Legislation in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC): A Comparative Policy Review

Since the early 1960s, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries have augmented the recruitment of foreign domestic workers – mostly from Asia and Africa – to work in various local and expatriate households. The national policies increased employment opportunities, particularly for women, creating a significant demand for foreign domestic workers within the region, currently totaling 2.5 million. Given the large-scale domestic work population, the GCC governments have faced a dilemma in regulating the sector. Although ongoing policy measures have been implemented to improve domestic work conditions, they neither have a coherent legal framework nor strong policy implementation to mitigate labor violations within the domestic work sector. Drawing from field observations and in-depth document analyses, we argue that the GCC governments’ incoherent national and international labor regulatory framework for domestic workers has not only reduced institutional effectiveness, but also undermined its market stability. This paper is divided into four sections.1 The first section explores the domestic worker migration to the GCC region, highlighting their demographic characteristics. The second section reviews current domestic work policies/legislations, identifying country-wide attempts at regulation. The third section examines the GCC countries’ compliance with selected international labor conventions, highlighting the challenges in translating them into their national legislative framework. The final section specifically examines Qatar’s domestic work sector to recommend policies for mitigating potential labor violations

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