26-04-2018
Labour Ministry revives National Policy to increase domestic helps' wages

newsimageEmployers of domestic helps could see their wage bills increase with the labour ministry reviving a national policy for setting equitable salaries and providing fair employment terms, protection and social security for workers. The ministry plans to set up a central board/trust where employers will register maids, drivers and all other household helps, who will be paid equally on the basis of the work they do. This is expected to end the bargaining power of both employers and employees. About 5 million domestic workers in the country, including 3 million women, will benefit from the move. As part of its efforts to protect domestic workers, the labour ministry has revived the 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, a senior government official told ET. All employers as well as domestic helps will have to register on the board and payment of salaries will be made through this board, similar to the Mathadi board model prevalent in Maharashtra. This will ensure that equal wages are paid for equal work, the official said, requesting anonymity. The Mathadi boards were set up to ensure fair wages were paid to workers carrying loads. 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 trying to push the policy forward this time because it is 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. The fresh policy will have to go through a series of stakeholder consultations before it takes final shape. Labour minister Santosh Kumar Gangwar said recently that the ministry aims to explicitly and effectively expand the scope of applicable legislation, policies and schemes to grant domestic workers rights that are enshrined in laws for other categories of workers. According to a notification issued by the labour ministry, 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 government, which may include contribution from employer/workers,” it said. Besides, an institutional mechanism will be put in place to provide social security cover and fair terms of employment for domestic workers, address their grievances and resolve disputes.