Domestic workers in China : a comparative study utilizing the capability approach.
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameDoctor of Philosophy
Since the adoption of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Domestic Workers Convention in 2011, there has been an increasing focus on the poor working conditions and standard of living of domestic workers in the world at large. Support for the advocacy of legal protection for domestic workers from governments and international organisations is also increasing. In contrast, although there are a large number of domestic workers in China and the domestic service industry is important to the development of the Chinese society, China has not provided domestic workers with adequate legal protection. The inadequate legal protection for domestic workers has resulted in the disadvantaged status of these workers and limited the development of the domestic service industry. This thesis reveals defects in the legislation applicable to domestic workers and provides corresponding legal reform recommendations.
The study examines the legal relationship between domestic workers and homeowners, and between domestic workers and domestic service companies. It reveals that domestic workers are excluded from the Chinese Labour Law and that there is no specific legislation on the protection of these workers. This thesis adopts the concept of “precarious work” to analyse the status of domestic workers in China. It reveals that the precarious status of domestic workers not only results from their inadequate legal protection but also from their demographic characteristics and the informality and temporality of domestic work. The capability approach provides a suitable theoretical framework to analyse the deficiencies in the legislation applicable to domestic workers in China because it supports the goal of protecting domestic workers and meets the requirement of understanding their demographic characteristics and the informality and temporality of domestic work. The analysis of the legislation on income, rest and social insurance of domestic workers from the perspective of the capability approach reveals that the legislation in China has not guaranteed their most basic capabilities. In order to change their precarious status, this thesis provides general recommendations on how China should develop legal protection for domestic workers and gives specific recommendations for the development of legal protection regarding their income, rest and social insurance.