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Thursday, November 14, 2019

Where are 'organised' helps?


Housemaids should come under an organised workforce
SRAY AGARWAL | Issue Dated: March 31, 2013, India: Status of housemaids
Tags : Housemaids | Domestic help | Minimum wages |

Housemaids are in demand everywhere. Supply has also grown at a fast clip, keeping up with rapid urbanisation and migration. However, despite domestic help service being a vital part of ‘home-economics’, no much heed has been paid to organise this sector and safeguard the interests of workers.

Countries in Latin America, the Caribbeans and Africa have included domestic workers under ‘general workers’ category. This way they have brought them under legislation that promises equal rights, bonuses, weekly-offs, and minimum wage rates. For instance, in Brazil, domestic workers are hired through registered contracts and enjoy minimum wages, paid-leaves, weekly offs and come under the purview of legislation meant for conventional workers. However, such a move is still due in India. They are still not considered as ‘waged workers’; in fact, they are degraded as mere servants (read: slaves). In Hong Kong, Fei Yeung is the term used to represent this particular class of workers.

Leave aside providing these workers with legislation that would make their life easier and recognise the value of their work in National Accounting, domestic workers are not even covered for prevention of exploitation of migrant workers and under the Protection of Women Against Sexual Harassment at Workplace Bill, 2010! However, a few states (like Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu) have framed policies to address the grievances of housemaids, but no such laws are available at the national level. Some other states like Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, and Rajasthan have enacted the Minimum Wage Act For Domestic Workers to protect their rights for a minimum pay and for maintaining their dignity.

With a formidable 14.4% of Indian working women in this profession, structuring initiatives are the need of the hour. Their voice is weak because they are mostly uneducated. Women’s Rights groups should take up their cause as a priority. That would be a great help. 

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Issue Dated: Feb 5, 2017