The labour ministry is reviving a national policy for setting equitable salaries and providing fair employment terms, protection and social security for domestic workers. The ministry plans to set up a central board/trust where employers need to register maids, drivers and other household workers, who will be paid equally on the basis of the work they do. About 5 million domestic workers in the country, including 3 million women, will benefit from the move.
Under this policy, the payment of wages will be made to the board under fixed slab rates and the central board/trust will be managed by all stakeholders, including senior government officials. The policy would require all employers and domestic helps to register on the board and payment of salaries will be made through this board. This will ensure that equal wages are paid for equal work. The ministry has been working on a national policy for domestic workers over past three years but various propositions have been pulled down by employers who said they would significantly add to their monthly bills.
The ministry is also drafting a universal social security code that would cover even domestic workers, so that they are not deprived of benefits such as medical insurance, pension, maternity and mandatory leave. The policy will have to go through a series of stakeholder discussions before being notified. Labour minister Santosh Kumar Gangwar said recently that the ministry aims to expand the scope of applicable legislation, policies and schemes to grant domestic workers rights that are enshrined in laws for other categories of workers.
The national policy for domestic workers would clearly define part-time, full-time and live-in workers, employers and private placement agencies. This would give workers the right to register themselves with the state labour departments.
The policy aims to promote right to fair terms of employment relating to minimum wages, protection from abuse/harassment and violence, access to social security benefits such as health insurance, maternity benefits and old age pensions as provided by the existing and upcoming schemes of central and state governments. In addition, an effective mechanism will be created to provide social security cover and fair terms of employment for domestic workers, address their grievances and resolve disputes.