Sh260,000 minimum salary proposed for housemaids

By John Agaba

The report called for fast tracking of the minimum wage process that proposes a pay of at least sh260,000 to house helps.

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A former housemaid in Kuwait Prudence Nandawula testifies before MPs. Photo by Kennedy Oryema. File Photo


A new report on domestic work and its contributions to economic development has highlighted low pay, restricted movements, and unfair dismissal as common factors affecting house helps.

It suggests legal amendments to the Constitution, calling for social security and insurance of domestic workers.

“The amendments should make provisions for informal sector workers under the NSSF Act 1985, the Pension Act (1994), the Occupation Safety Act (2006) and Workers Compensation Act (2000),” the report recommended.

It also called for fast tracking of the minimum wage process that proposes a pay of at least sh260,000 to the maids.

Reading the report’s results, principal investigator Rashid Kiwanuka from Makerere University, said domestic workers need “social security” they can lean on after they become of age and can no longer engage in any work.

“What happens to these girls and young women after they can no longer be employed? Where do they go? How do they survive? They need social protection,” Kiwanuka said.

Legal aid service network chief Sylvia Namubiru Mukasa said domestic employees also needed to benefit from workers’ compensation and other worker-welfare legislation.

House helps in Uganda are predominantly women (93%). Majority (65%) of the respondents surveyed were between 15 to 30 years. 45% had not attained education beyond primary level, while 43% had reached secondary but dropped out at lower secondary. More than 300 domestic workers were interviewed for the 2016 survey.

Kiwanuka said domestic workers promote household and national savings, as they allow their employers to focus on other development work, with their homes taken care of.

Godfrey Subwa called for sympathy towards domestic workers. “Try and be in their shoes. Most of them are paid sh50,000. But what can sh50,000 do in today’s economy?” he asked.