Home-based Workers in Pakistan

Know the situation about Home based workers in Pakistan, their rights, wages and working conditions.

What is the situation of Home-based workers in Pakistan?

The informal estimates indicate that there are 20 million home-based workers in the country of which 12 million are women. There are no laws for home-based workers in Pakistan and the country has also not ratified the ILO Convention C177. The Labour Force Survey analysis however indicates that there are 4.8 million home-based workers in the country (working at "their own dwelling” and “family or friend’s dwelling”). A UN Women Report 2016 indicates that home-based workers contributed almost Rs. 400 billion through their wages to the economy, 65% by women. This amount is nearly equal to 3.8% of the total GDP in 2013-14. 

Both the Ministry of Labour & Manpower and Ministry of Women Development formulated a policy prior to their devolution in June 2011. After devolution, this policy now rests with the provinces. Provinces are working on home-based workers bills/legislative procedures. Punjab and Sindh governments have notified home-based workers policies in 2017. Now they are working on draft legislation. Once these bills are passed, these workers will get all the benefits granted to regular workers.

Is there any union of home-based workers in Pakistan?

In accordance with article 17 of the Constitution of Pakistan, every individual has the right to join an association or union.

HomeNet Pakistan, a network of organizations working for the rights of home-based workers, exists at the national level and is actively pursuing passage of home-based worker rights bills through the provincial assemblies.

How does the national policy define home-based workers in Pakistan?

According to the National Policy, a home-based worker is:

  1. a person who works within the home boundaries, or in any other premises of his/her choice, but excluding the premises of the employer’s or contractor’s workplace;
  2. a person who works at home for remuneration or monetary returns;
  3. a person who is self-employed or does piece-rate, own-account, or contract work, which results in a product or services as specified by the employer/contractor

The definition, used in national policy, is more comprehensive one than used earlier in ILO Convention, which covers only one category of home-based workers i.e., home workers.

Who are not included as home-based workers?

According to the National Policy on Home-based workers, these persons are not included in the definition of home-based worker;

  1. a person with employee status who occasionally performs his/her employee work at home, rather than at his/her usual workplace;
  2. a home-based worker who has the degree of autonomy and of the economic independence necessary to be considered an independent self-employed worker under national laws, regulations or court decisions;
  3. a domestic worker, since he/she does not work in his/her own home;
  4. a person working, outside his/her home boundaries, in the rural or non-formal sectors of agriculture, livestock, forestry, fisheries, etc., since he/she is still termed as “unpaid agricultural family helper”.


What are different provisions under this policy?

The national policy provides that home-based workers will have

  1. Equal treatment in wages and a minimum wage would be set
  2. Skills training, provided by the government
  3. Access to credit, land ownership and other assets
  4. Freedom of association and collective bargaining
  5. Right to safe work place
  6. Social security benefits
  7. Right to registration as home-based workers

Do home-based workers have access to social security benefits?

Yes, if they regularly deposit their monthly contribution to the Employees Old Age Benefits Association (EoBI).

What are the problems faced by Home-based workers?

The home-based workers face following issues.

  • i. Invisible to policymakers and lawmakers
  • ii. Lack of proper health care facilities
  • iii. Insecure & hazardous workplace (environment)
  • iv. Non-availability of work in time
  • v. Long working hours
  • vi. Inadequate housing conditions
  • vii. Low wages and non payment of dues in time/irregular income
  • viii. Less market access
  • ix. No organized labour union/no collective bargaining
  • x. Exorbitant interest rates for loans
  • xi. Women having no right to spend their earnings
  • xii. Lack of self independence & decision power
  • xiii. No proper estimate about the true number of HBWs
  • xiv. More dependence on middleman
  • xv. No market linkages (lacking value chains)
  • xvi. Lack of vocational training to do work
  • xvii. As women have to observe purdah, especially in the countryside and they can’t leave homes easily, they can’t get good price for their work (due to incomplete information about market dynamics).