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Domestic workers pay a heavy price for employers’ non-compliance with labour law

In April 2020, Izwi Domestic Workers Alliance surveyed domestic workers to better understand how many were on unpaid leave, and how many have access to UIF relief. As we hit month end, most domestic workers will not receive wages, resulting in more hunger and evictions. Of 602 respondents,[1] only 37% can confirm they are getting full wages during the Covid-19 lockdown. Less than 10% of domestic workers are on paid leave, 27% are on unpaid leave, and another 27% are on leave but have not been told whether they will be paid for April. 4% lost their job because of Covid-19.

Other issues reported in the survey included forced separation from their families, and prevention from seeking medical care or buying groceries when needed. Of those staying in their employers' houses during lockdown, most are not getting evenings, weekends or public holidays off. Even in early April many were already struggling with insufficient funds for food and rent. (See below for direct comments from workers.)