To protect the interest of domestic workers, the government is readying a national policy that proposes a minimum salary of Rs 9,000 per month for the skilled full-time household help, along with a host of benefits including social security cover and mandatory leaves.
The draft ‘National Policy for Domestic Workers’, which would be soon moved for approval of the Union Cabinet, also calls for provisions against sexual harassment and bonded labour, and recommends compulsory paid leave of 15 days a year as also the maternity leave.
Besides, the Policy provides that the domestic workers be given a right to pursue education, a safe working environment, and a grievance redressal mechanism. It also has a provision for mandatory contribution from the employer towards social security of the domestic workers.
Workers and employers will also have rights to form groups and engage with each other for ‘collective bargaining’.
A draft note in this regard, prepared by the Director General Labour Welfare (DGLW), was submitted to Labour Minister Bandaru Dattatreya last week.
“The Domestic Workers Policy has to be framed. Domestic workers are also subjected to exploitation and therefore the welfare and protection of domestic labour force is very important,” Dattatreya told PTI.
“The policy framework is on par with the standards of the International Labour Organisation. India has adopted the ILO convention on domestic workers and therefore we have to make a policy for this segment of the society,” he said.
Once it comes into force, the policy will make it binding to enter into a tripartite agreement between the employer, the worker and the intermediary agency that connects the two, a senior Labour Minister official said.
The draft policy recommends minimum monthly wage for unskilled, semi-skilled, skilled and highly-skilled categories of the domestic workers.
“Highly-skilled and those giving full-time service should be eligible to get a salary of at least Rs 9,000 per month,” the official said, while adding that the aim of the policy is to empower the domestic workers by making this large workforce a services industry in due course of time.
“The policy for domestic workers was underway since 2007.
It went to the Cabinet twice — first in 2013 and then in 2014. But, it was later on referred to the Group of Ministers as Right to Collective Bargaining and Freedom of Association, which are integral parts of ILO convention, were missing in the draft proposed at that time,” the official said.
Now both these points — Right to Collective Bargaining and Freedom of Association — have been included in the revised draft policy, the official added.
As per ILO, the right of workers and employers to form and join organisations (worker unions or employer groups) of their own choosing is an integral part of a free and open society.
On Right to Collective Bargaining, the ILO says the right of workers to bargain freely with employers is an essential element and workers can approach employers directly or through their representatives for the ‘collective bargaining’.
Dattatreya said that the policy for domestic workers is pending since 2007 as the UPA government did not pursue it.
“Social security is one the biggest focus areas but the UPA government completely neglected it,” the Minister said while adding that the revised policy framework is now in line with the ILO recommendations.
“We have taken it one a priority basis. Now this policy is going to the Cabinet and therefore the necessary legislation will be made,” Dattatreya said.