With the Home base Workers legislation enactment and inclusion of HBWs in the Labour workforce, Pakistan leads the way in South Asia in legislation for homeworkers. The promising policy environment has the potential to put Pakistan in a strong position as trade with the EU – and other OECD countries – increasingly becomes subject to business and human rights compliance standards. This was shared by Ume Laila, Executive Director, Home Net Pakistan in a policy dialogue held today in Lahore. The dialogue discussed the major challenges in mainstreaming the home base workers from the informal economy in the major labour dialogue. The GoP takes initiatives for recognition of the HBWs as a work category. However there are still major hurdles in the implementation of the Punjab HBWs Act 2023. Amidst the changing and challenging scenario of politics, labour situation, global markets; women in informality belonging to home base sector remain vulnerable with uncertainty and lack of clarity of the their roles and position within the existing labour market. Though not yet at implementation stage, the Homebased Workers Act 2018 of Sindh province, Punjab (2023), Baluchistan (2022) and Khyber Pakhutwah (2021), provide crucial frameworks within which homebased workers are in line to be recognized and access fairer treatment under law stressed Ume Laila.
Ume Laila said that HomeNet Pakistan under the initiative of “Tracing Home workers, Improving Transparency and working conditions of women workers in the Garment Textile and Apparel supply chains”; intends to follow up on the dialogue for creating spaces for the women in the garment and textile as informal workers. Through larger sensitization and capacity building of the home workers and the relevant stakeholders around presence of home workers within supply chains and initiate dialogue between relevant stakeholders. It is envisioned that the dialogue would provide a platform to ensure collective actions to further ensure inclusion and protection of Home workers across supply chain.
Rao Zahid, Deputy Secretary LHRD shared the main clauses of the HBWs Act, the fifth approved law off the year 2023. He shared the definitions in the law e.g HomeBased Worker, contractor,
Wages, Worker Establishment of welfare Fund with the seed money by GoP. Which will utilize for the cash benefit of HBWs and their skill development.
M. Ikram from Employers Federation of Pakistan said that Given this, it is now even more important that EU-based brands operating in Pakistan take steps to gain better visibility on their supply chains and understand impacts they are having, as buyers, on their suppliers’ capacity to support the most vulnerable workers. Hiddenness itself drives vulnerability as brands are often not aware of these workers vital contribution to production processes and not able to include them as part of regular audits. At the same time, it is well known that buyers’ requirements often mean that a flexible workforce – including homeworkers and other outworkers – needs to be maintained by suppliers. Transparency hinges on having open conversations about this issue.
Prof. Dr. Mehnaz Hassan, Chairperson Social Work Department, University of Punjab, We always talk about the agenda of women violence but not discuss the positive visible work by the invisible worker that is women. We have to address the agenda of Social Risk Management with regards to women. She also emphasized on the mapping of Sanatzar, TEVTA and PVTC.
Dr. Uzma Khan, Department Women Studies, Lahore College University. Mental Wellbeing may also be address in the indicator.
Mr. Shahid, Secretary Minimum Wage appreciated HomeNet and especially Ms. Ume Laila for their contribution in approval of Law. He also said that as per law it will be mandatory for an employer to provide signed contract with HBWs. The sample of contract also added as a appendices of Law.
Mr. Sajjid Rasool, DG, Bureau of Statistics appreciated HomeNet Pakistan for taking the initiative as Pioneer for this policy Dialogue which Should be done by the Government of Punjab’s relevant Department.
The policy Dialogue was attended by Government of Punjab officials including Minimum Wage and Labour Departments, national and International NGOs, Academia. The Provincial Task force formation was recommended for policy implementation for HBWs, and Time Based Survey for minorities and Trans Gender for addressing the missing component of HBWs survey, Gender disparity Survey must be done after every third Year. The policy dialogue sessions will also be held in Lahore and Karachi to further ensure the inclusion and transparency within the supply chains.