Domestic workers and their rights in India
Domestic workers in India have always been categorized under the umbrella of ‘unorganised labour’ and have been excluded from the welfare and laws. With the maximum number of domestic workers being women and children, there has been many cases and reports of exploit. So in the year of 2010 there was a law developed for the rights and welfare of domestic workers known as “Domestic workers Welfare and Social Security Act, 2010”. These laws and activities that look after important employment-related issues such as conditions of work, wages, social security, provident funds, old age pensions, and maternity leaves. Though the Indian government's Ministry of Labour has adopted legislative measures for social security and welfare of unorganised workers, proper implications of them is still a question. This act aimed to protect and ensures the end of the exploitation of these domestic workers. Here are the details and provisions of the Act which may provide a more clear approach of the Act:
- This Act is applicable to whole of India except state of Jammu and Kashmir.
- It does not apply to such domestic workers who have immigrated for employment to any other country.
- Employment of child is prohibited under any law for the time being in force as a domestic worker or for any such incidental or ancillary work.
- Implementing Authority under the Act will be Central Advisory Committee, State Advisory Committee and District Board.
Chapter 3 of the Act focuses on registration of all domestic workers under this Act helps to control trafficking and other forms of exploitation.
- Under this act it is mentioned that every employer/service provider and domestic worker wherever applicable, will have to within one month of commencement of the employment, submit their details along with prescribed fees as prescribed to the District Board.
- In case where a domestic worker undertakes part time work in two or more households and is not engaged through any placement agency, it will be duty of such domestic worker to get him/herself registered with the District Board. If domestic worker is engaged through placement agency to work in more than one household, it shall be duty of such agency to register the worker.
- If a domestic worker leaves the work in a district and moves to any other place within the territory of India and take up work over there by its own or through agency of middleman. It shall be the duty of that worker, agency or middleman to inform concerned Board where so s/he was registered and where s/he has moved to.
- Where an employer engages a domestic worker on full time basis, it shall be the duty of the employer to register that domestic worker with the Board on payment of prescribed fee, which will be on yearly subscription. Irrespective whether the domestic worker continues in such employment or performs any part of household work or work part time in more than two households.
- Where a domestic worker is engaged through agency or middleman it shall be the duty of such agency or middle man to provide details along with fee to the Board.
- Renewal of registration certificate will be issued at an interval of one year on payment of prescribed fee.
Registration as a beneficiary as domestic worker:
- As per the provision of this Act, every domestic workers can register themselves as beneficiary under this Act to entitle themselves for the benefits provided by the Board from its Fund. Any worker who has completed 18 years of age, but has not completed 65 years and has engaged in any domestic work for not less than 90 days during the preceding 12 months shall be eligible for registering themselves as beneficiary under this Act.
- On payment of prescribed fee domestic worker can get themselves registered as beneficiary and in case of any person aggrieved by the decision may within 30 days can appeal to the state board.
- Board will issue an identity card to every beneficiary with his photograph on it along with a passbook to enable them in opening the bank accounts.
- The District Board shall maintain records/register containing all details of employment of beneficiaries on the district.
Regulation of working conditions:
Chapter six of the Act mentions about the working conditions of the domestic workers and duties of the employer and service provider
- Every employer will have to provide particulars of the domestic workers engaged directly or through agency to the District Board in prescribed form and paying fees.
- No service provider or agency shall carry on the business of providing domestic worker to any employer under they are registered under the Act.
- The service provider shall maintain all records of all the domestic workers.
- No employee shall work for more than 9 hours a day or more than 48 hours in any week. And if any overtime is worked wages needs to be paid accordingly. The overtime rate shall be calculated at one and half times the average earnings.
- Interval for rest should be provided in such a form that work period of any employee shall not exceed five hours without break of half an hour.
- Every employee irrespective of being full time, part time, or other form of employment will be entitled for a weekly day off.
- As under the Act section 27 mentions that the appropriate government shall by notification fix the minimum wages rate for domestic workers.
Offences and penalty:
- Any service provider who contravenes the provision of the Act shall be punishable with imprisonment of term which may extend to 3 months and with fine which may extend to rupees two thousand, or with both. In case of continuation of contravention additional fine which may extend to rupees one hundred for every day shall be imposed.
- If an employer fails to comply with the provisions of the Act they shall be punished with fine which may extend to rupees two thousand.
- If any person who willingly obstructs any officer who is authorized by the District Board to conduct inspection or refuses to cooperate in inspection shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to 3 months and with fine which may extend to rupees two thousand, or both.
- If any person knowingly sends or directs of takes any girl or woman to any place for immoral purposes or where she is likely to be morally corrupted, or sexually exploits such woman of child shall be punished with imprisonment for not less than 3 years and which may extend upto 7 years and fine upto rupees two thousand or both.
- Shailja Tripathi