Domestic worker

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A poster featuring an illustration of a stereotypical uniformed maid

A domestic worker, or simply domestic, is a servant who works within their employer's household.

In large households, there can be a large number of domestic workers doing different jobs, often as part of an elaborate hierarchy. While this type of social arrangement is all but obsolete in developed countries, it can perform a useful social role in less-developed countries in distributing income. Nevertheless such elaborate hierarchies, if based around a class or caste system, can perpetuate divisions and restrict social mobility.

A butler is a senior domestic worker, whose duties traditionally included handling the wines of the household and some management of the other servants. Female domestic workers are often called maids.

Domestic workers perform typical domestic chores such as cooking, ironing, washing, cleaning the house, buying foods and drinks, accompanying the female head of the household for grocery shopping, taking the family dog for a walk, and taking care of the children. In some countries, maids replace the role of a nurse in taking care of the elderly and people with disabilities. Maids often are expected to work at least fifteen hours per day.


Domestic Service in the post-Industrial era

Europe and North America

Domestic service reached its height during the Edwardian and Victorian ages in Great Britain and the Gilded Age in the United States.

The emancipation of middle-class women in the late 20th century and their entry into the professional workforce meant that middle-class households were deprived of an important source of unpaid domestic labour. This has given rise to a sharp increase in the employment of cleaners and nannies.

Middle and Far East

Many countries and some industries, such as cruise lines import domestic workers from abroad through recruitment agencies and brokers because their own nationals are no longer obliged or inclined to work in underpaid, difficult or exploitive jobs. This includes most Middle Eastern countries, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia and Taiwan. Even the People's Republic of China imports domestic workers from the Philippines. For most countries, the number of domestic workers run into the hundreds of thousands. There are at least one million domestic workers in Saudi Arabia.

Major sources of domestic workers include the Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, and Ethiopia. Taiwan also imports domestic workers from Vietnam and Mongolia.

Domestic service in other nations

In other places, such as Latin America and Africa, most domestic workers are from the same country in which they work. They may commute from home though they are usually "live-in" domestics, meaning they receive room and board as part of their salaries, sometimes they only receive room and board (see au pair).

Notable domestic workers

See also

External links

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