Civil society organisations and trade unions under the banner of National Platform for Domestic Workers today demanded a comprehensive legislation to regulate their working condition and provisions for social security benefits. The platform has also drafted a model Domestic Workers Regulation of Work and Social Security Bill and discussion on it was held with various stakeholders here. The model bill proposes an autonomous statutory body, mandatory registration of domestic workers, employers and other placement agencies, and penalties for non-compliance.
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The draft legislation also seeks to regulate the working conditions of domestic workers by clear enumeration of duties of employers and service providers, their working hours, weekly holidays, over-time wages and intervals for rest.
“The draft bill mandates provisions of basic amenities at the workplace, payment of wages through bank accounts in the name of the worker, social security benefits, implementation of minimum wages etc,” Father Chetan, Regional Coordinator of the National Domestic Workers Movement said.
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“However, considering the nature of the domestic work sector where every other household is an employer, the legislation is bound to have a rough sail through Parliament. At the same time, given the nature of their work and social conditions of the workers, coming as they are from the lowest rungs of the social ladder, such an Act can have a tremendous impact on the lives of millions of women and their households across the country,” Nalini Nayak, Coordinator for Domestic Workers Sector in SEWA.
Onkar Sharma, Regional Labour Commissioner, the Ministry of Labour, said that the government would examine the draft bill and take a call accordingly.
“We will examine the draft bill submitted to us by the National Platform for Domestic Workers. We also have to see whether we should go for a special law for domestic workers.
“The national policy for domestic workers is under consideration of the government. We are already planning to extend the existing laws to bring domestic workers under the cover. The government has enacted the Unorganised Workers Social Security Act, 2008 for providing social security benefits to unorganised workers including domestic workers,” said Sharma.
As per the Employment-Unemployment Survey (EUS) of National Sample Survey Organisation, the estimated number of domestic workers in the country was 41.3 lakhs during 2011-12 of which majority — 27.9 lakhs — were women.