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National Policy on Domestic Workers

National Policy on Domestic Workers

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.
  • The Ministry of Labour & Employment is set to formulate a National Policy on Domestic Workers for providing various social securities.
    • 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.
    • As per the National Sample Survey, there are an estimated 39 lakhs people employed as domestic workers by private households, of which 26 lakhs are female domestic workers.

Some of the salient features of the proposed draft are:
• Inclusion of Domestic Workers in the existing legislations
• Domestic Workers have Right to register as unorganized workers
• Right to form their own associations/unions
• Right to minimum wages, access to social security
• Right to enhance their skills
• Protection against from abuse and exploitation
• Access to courts, tribunals for grievance redressal
• Establishment of a mechanism for regulation of private placement agencies.
• Establishment of a grievance redressal system for domestic workers.
Other Policy Measures
• The Centre is already implementing Unorganised Workers’ Social Security Act, 2008.
• The act aims to provide social security relating to life and disability cover, health and maternity benefits, old age protection to the unorganised workers including domestic workers.
• The ministry is also drafting a Universal Social Security Code that would cover even domestic workers, who are otherwise deprived of benefits such as medical insurance, pension, maternity and mandatory leave.

Other welfare schemes for women domestic workers :
  National Old Age Pension Scheme (Ministry of Rural Development)
• National Family Benefit Scheme (Ministry of Rural Development)
• Janani Suraksha Yojana (Ministry of Health and Family Welfare)
• Ayushman Bharat (Ministry of Health and Family Welfare)
• Under the Central Government , the social security schemes are
o Aam Aadmi Bima Yojana (AABY) with Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Jyoti Bima Yojana (PMJJBY) and
o Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojana (PMSBY):
   To provide life and disability coverage to the unorganised workers for the age group of 18 to 50 years depending upon their eligibility.
• Domestic Workers have also been included as a specific category of workers (with home as the workplace) in the Sexual Harassment of women at workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act (2013).
• In several States, trade unions are organizing domestic workers and unions have been registered exclusively for domestic workers.
• Domestic Workers Sector Skills Council has been established under Ministry of Skills Development to enable professionalization of domestic workers and enable their career progression.

Formulation of a new Labour Code
• The Ministry of Labour & Employment has prepared a Labour Code on Industrial Relations, by simplifying, amalgamating and rationalizing the relevant provisions of the following three Labour Laws:-
• The Industrial Disputes Act, 1947,
• The Trade Unions Act, 1926,
• The Industrial Employment (Standing Orders) Act, 1946.
• Labour code on wages and industrial relations are two of the four codes that labour ministry had been working over the last few years.
• In line with recommendations of Second National Commission on Labour, ministry had formed four labour codes, namely
o wages
o industrial relations
o social security & welfare and occupational safety
o health and working conditions.

Proposed national policy for domestic workers:

  • Its aimis 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 forall 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 mechanismto 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 rightsfor 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 agenciesby 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 termssuch as part time workers, full time workers, live in workers, employers and private placement agencies.

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