India to create new policy for protection of domestic workers

The government of India today said was engaged in “discussions” to come up with a policy on domestic workers to them from exploitation and abuse.

India currently has various laws to protect workers, but these tend to cover only those employed in the organized sectors such as those in industries, agriculture, shops and offices.

The new domestic worker policy will have provisions designed to extent the protection of labor laws to domestic workers as well, said Santosh Singh Gangwar, the minister of state for labor and employment.

He said the new policy will put in place registration of all domestic workers and ensure access to legal remedies such as courts and tribunals.

The new policy will also contain provisions for minimum wages for such workers, he added.

At present, domestic workers are among the most exploited in most parts of the country.

They are usually paid a fraction of what factory workers are paid — as little as Rs 40 per day — and face physical and mental harassment at the hands of their employers.

The central legislation comes on the heels of moves by some state governments to ensure protection to such workers.

Rajasthan, Kerala, Punjab, Tamilnadu and Tripura are the states that have already brought domestic workers under the Minimum Wages Act.

Both the center and the states are free to make laws on labor, which is part of the concurrent list of subjects in the Indian constitution.

Gangwar also said that the new law will provide for domestic workers to have their own industry associations and trade unions and also seek to monitor placement agencies that supply workers in big cities.

Recently, a domestic help was ‘beaten up’ by her employers in an upmarket housing complex in the national capital region, which led to a ‘mini riot’ as many from her village descended on the housing complex to protest.