Labour and Industrial Law Research Paper
Domestic Workers in India
The domestic worker is defined as a person employed to do the housework or allied activities in any household, thus excluding those involved in cleaning or cooking in offices, shops and other such premises.1 The word domestic in itself refers to the private household and not the commercial places. This definition does not include the category of people working in commercial sector which means domestic workers are not at par with the people working in commercial establishments and are hence not covered under the provisions benefiting them under various labour and industrial laws. This leaves domestic workers with major legislation on their side and they continue to suffer at their respective work places in most of the cases. The International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) Convention provides for a definition of domestic worker in Article 1 of the Convention which defines a domestic worker as “any person engaged in domestic work within an employment relationship”.2 Moreover, domestic work is defined in Article 1(a) as work done in or for a household. This definition is very broad and it expands not just those who are involved in daily household chores, but also includes those who do not work within in the household but for the household, such as chauffeurs and security guards. Indian government chose not to support the ILO convention which means that definition is not applicable to India and rather the government has come up with a Domestic Workers Welfare and Social Security Bill, 2010 where Section 2(f) of the said Bill defines a domestic worker as “a person who is employed for remuneration whether in cash or kind , in any house hold ‘or similar Establishments’ through any agency or directly, either on a temporary or contract basis or permanent, part time or full time to do the household or allied work.”3 Indian and ILO’s definition differ on the concept of including or excluding the persons working in household related works. For e.g. The ILOs definition covers the security guards and drivers within the ambit of persons working in household related work and they are included in the definition of domestic worker whereas the Indian definition only covers persons working within the household and leaves person working for household related work. However, the latest draft of the Bill introduced by the National Commission for Women provides that household or allied work includes the work of chauffeurs.
Problems faced by Domestic Workers
The domestic workers life is full of various day to day troubles and also some problem which affect them throughout their lifetime. Some such issues have been ascertained with the help of interview sessions conducted with some of the local household workers such as maid, cook, etc In order to understand the problems, it is first necessary to know the types of tasks performed by domestic workers in India where they have been classified as full-time, part-time, live-in and live-out.4 Full-time and part-time means whether the worker is employed for working certain hours of the day or the full day while live-in and live-out means whether the worker lives inside the household or at separate place. The problem faced by the each type of worker may be different based on their individual experience and the type of work they do but the problems can be broadly ascertained for a type of worker. The part-time workers, for example, face the problem of being treated unequally and on lower level while compared to the full-time workers. This problem is very deep and persists within the whole system despite having equal treatment guaranteed by Article 14 of the Constitution of India similarly live-out workers face unequal treatment when compared to live-in workers. The “aggregate daily hours of work, across all the households that the worker is employed in, may be...
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