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National Policy on Domestic Workers

Topics covered:

  1. Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
  2. Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.

 

National Policy on Domestic Workers

 

What to study?

  • For Prelims: Key features of the proposed National Policy on Domestic Workers, International Labour Organisation’s Convention 189 on Decent Work for Domestic Workers.
  • For Mains: Need for a policy and guidelines on this, vulnerability and challenges faced by domestic workers, international experience.

 

Context: In a bid to give recognition to domestic workers besides making them eligible for minimum wages, social security and safe working conditions, labour ministry is drafting the national policy.

 

There is a need for the policy due to the following reasons:

  • Employer-dominated, domestic work industry is characterised by low, stagnant wage rates. Wages are particularly low for Bengali and Adivasi workers.
  • Irregular payment of wages by employer.
  • Extraction of more work than agreed upon at the start of employment.
  • Practice of arbitrarily reducing wages.
  • Private power of regulation enjoyed by the employer.
  • Private nature of regulation has allowed the employer to exercise quasi-magisterial powers over the domestic worker in India.
  • Workers’ attempts to renegotiate their terms of work or to leave such employment are outbid by verbal, and often, physical assaults by employers.
  • Domestic workers are on an almost absolute risk of unemployment or criminalisation when they try to obtain their dues.

 

Proposed national policy for domestic workers:

  • Its aim is to protect the domestic workers from abuse, harassment, violence and guarantee them rights in the matter of social security and minimum wages. The policy also includes social security cover and provisions against sexual harassment and bonded labour.
  • It is a national policy for all kinds of household helps, under which payment of wages will be made to the board under fixed slab rates and the central board/trust will be managed by all stakeholders.
  • The policy intends to set up an institutional mechanism to social security cover, fair terms of employment, grievance redressal and dispute resolution. It provides for recognising domestic workers as a worker with the right to register themselves with state labour department or any other suitable mechanism.
  • The policy will also promote the rights for them to organise and form their own unions/associations and affiliate with other unions/associations. It will also provide for model contract of employment with well-defined period of work and rest.
  • It also aims to regulate the recruitment and placement agencies by respective governments through formulation of a policy. It will also have a tripartite implementation committee at centre, state and district levels.
  • It will also clearly define various terms such as part time workers, full time workers, live in workers, employers and private placement agencies.

 

Sources: et.

Mains Question: The proposed national policy for domestic workers fails to achieve the purpose it is designed for. Critically examine.