Soon your domestic help will have the right to demand minimum wages, regulated working hours, paid leave and much more. All these provisions are included in the Ministry of Labour and Employment’s draft national policy for domestic workers.
The draft policy, which has been developed under a task force set up by the ministry, has been placed in the public domain till the month-end for inviting comments and suggestions. It is expected to affect around 6.4 million domestic workers.
The proposals include minimum wage protection, normal work hours (including compensation for overtime), paid annual leave and sick leave, protection from sexual harassment and social security coverage, including maternity benefits.
To facilitate these changes, the ministry plans to amend eight existing laws, which include the Minimum Wages Act, Trade Union Act, Workmen’s Compensation Act, etc. Further, since labour is a state subject, the central government would be required to take the states along.
The policy’s implementation would be the responsibility of the labour ministry, which will set up an implementation committee comprising workers’ and employers’ organisations, representative organisations of domestic workers and other stakeholders. The committee has been given three months to formulate a report and its recommendations would be used to “provide advice” to the labour ministry.
However, many doubt if the government would be able to implement these various provisions.
“The policy would go a long way in improving the working conditions. However, I doubt whether the implementation would be monitored. Many provisions under the labour laws are not implemented because of a lack of administrative machinery,” said Amitava Ghosh, senior vice-president, Teamlease.
J John, editor of the bi-monthly magazine Labour File, said the policy would help bring a huge section of workers, who have been ignored so far, under the law.
“This is being done as the government is under pressure from the International Labour Organisation. However, since domestic workers cannot be classified, the implementation of these laws is very difficult,” he said.