Only 1/3 of Brazil’s 1.6 Million Maids Have Working Papers. 30% Earn Less than Minimum

All day, every day, from Monday through Saturday, fixing meals, cleaning house, washing and ironing, in addition to looking after the children of the house, in exchange for a monthly minimum wage and the right to a vacation and a year-end bonus.

That is how the Brazilian law defines the work of domestic servants. Nevertheless, only 544 thousand of the approximately 1.6 domestic servants in the country’s six major metropolitan areas hold formal jobs, with signed working papers. .

The profile of domestic servants in Brazil may be found in a special supplement published today, April 26, by the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE).

The study shows that this category represents 8.1% of the employed population in Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, Porto Alegre, Salvador, Belo Horizonte, and Recife and that women form the majority of the category.

17.5% of all working women in the six areas are cleaning women, day laborers, babysitters, cooks, laundresses, maids, or companions of the sick and elderly.

The study demonstrates that, in the last four years, more and more people have been looking for this kind of work, especially in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, where the salaries are higher.

The educational level of domestic servants remains low. Not even 10% attend school, and only 36% were able to finish fundamental school. The study also reveals that a substantial percentage (37.3%) are heads of households and that blacks still constitute the majority of the profession.

Creusa Maria Oliveira, president of the National Federation of Domestic Servants, said that the biggest challenge to gaining respect for the rights of the category is to get the domestic servants themselves to demand that their employers obey the law. According to Oliveira, many domestic servants ending up settling for less for fear of losing their jobs.

"We want our rights to be the same as those of ordinary workers, but to achieve this we must mobilize a greater number of domestic servants, which is very difficult, since many can’t even read.

"So, we are engaged in preparing the groundwork, in squares where babysitters take children, as well as in open-air markets and supermarkets. We attempt to restore domestic workers’ self-esteem and at the same time orient them to seek out their labor union and demand their employers to sign their working papers," she added.

Oliveira acknowledged that many domestic servants prefer to hold informal jobs and work as day laborers in different residences in order to make more money.

"This occurs principally in the big cities like Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, where they manage to double their monthly earnings."

Jussara Maria de Oliveira, aged 35, has worked for families since she was 16 and never with signed working papers.

As she puts it: "The employers say that it is very expensive to [hire someone and] sign their papers; in return, they give me money for bus fare and a basic food basket. So it’s best to keep things this way."

The IBGE study also showed that domestic servants earn only 35% of what ordinary workers are paid and that nearly 30% of the category still receives less than the minimum wage.

Agência Brasil


  • Show Comments (1)

  • Edmonds

    The mojority of Brazilian Domestic Workers in Brazil want to go college but the system does not allow because they live below poverty.
    First of all is clearly understood that more and more poeple are looking for this type of jobs. First the job seeker has no opportunity for a better job than domestic worker.Second because of the lack of a good education there is no way that an individual can seek for semothing else than domestic labor.
    The facf that it has increase the stastic in this area is because in the only job avialable for poeple in particualr women (low class women who does not have a chance to go to college because their financial situation does not allow them such privelage, which is only avialable to the middle class poeple specially in the Public University in Brazil. Ironically these so called Public Universities in Brazil is supposily to be for Poeple who has financial needs and cannot afford a private institution. Any ways going back to the point about domestic labor in Brazil Domestic Worker are not respected as they should be accoding to the Dmoestic Workers Law. Poeple have to understand that this is not a nobel job ,because the the individual who works in this area are dsicriminated from the their employer to the doorman. The domestic workers in Brazil are expose to all type of discrimination and abuse.Sychological,Verbal.gender and discriminate because of their social status, And the other thing is that Domestic wokers in Brazil Worked over time and do not get paid for, in addition to that they are exploited and humiliated by their employer, The worker had time to started to work but does not have time to lieve. besides that in this area of jobs People does not get well paid, when is not the minimum wage is less than that a salary determined by law. I have done a research in Brazil where I personaly went door to door and I had the opportunity to speak to several Domestic Worker who told me what is like to work in as a domestic labor.Here is how some of these women told me their experience as domestic labors in Rio de Janeiro. L. Said hey once you are known getting to wok using the back door you will died using the back doors even the doorman who a simple employee like myself he is the first one to show you the back door meanin that maids should not use the frent door whenever they came to work, by the way this is forbbiden by law in Brazil, but saddly this law is only in the papers because it is not respected. She also said that alot of her cooworkers they say the samething how they are treat by the poeple who they worked for, she said most of these people who we work for they always gives us leaft over insteady of giving us fresh food. they also considered us as a ingnorant poeple who are not able to think for ourselves and not only that here in Brazil nurse,home atendente,babysitter and housekeeper are all treated as domestic workers and they all do all the house shores for a lttle money, wich some poeple think is too much for a low class domestic labor. By the way there are even some politician who are supose to be a role model for the nation,saddly these respected citizens are the first to violets the labor laws. Not respecting their worker’s rights garantee by law. The problem with this Brazilian law is that it is not mandatory to the employers to respected the thier worker wiht dignity, abd respecting thier civil rights and theirs human rigths, the right to be treat with dignity and as equal in the society. In conlusion the Brazilian’s domestic labor law should be reenforced in order to prevent further abuses and the violation of civil rights,gender discrimination,harrasssament, the degradetion of a human being and the violation of human rights. These are only few things that I personally heard from these workers, but there are much more in my reaserch. for the recorded Domestic labors in Brazil are not highly paid for their job which I believe is too low for all the work they do, the majority of them workers 12 hours and get paid very low, in additon to that workers overtime and do not get paid this is a common practice in Brazil.! Lets break the silent denunce domestic labor abuse.

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