Know Your Rights- Domestic Workers
Analyzing the Labour Legislations Regarding the Domestic Workers in India
India, Being the second- largest population of the country, is fighting out the major issue of economic inequalities between the wealthy and the poor. Domestic workers are being victimized as the vulnerable category of the poor and exploited. The illiteracy rate among these categories is very high, which compliments the exploitation. Sexual harassment, gender inequality, false accusations, are some of the issues faced by domestic workers. The Legislation, however, didn't turn a deaf ear towards these impoverished sectors and had incorporated various laws for the protection of these workers.
Addressing the issues of these vulnerable categories as well as the emerging relevancy of the concept of social security has strained the government of India to take necessary steps for the protection of domestic workers. The Unorganised Workers Social Security Act, 2008, and The Sexual Harassment of workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal ) Act, 2013 are some of the laws related to the protection of domestic workers.
Legislations Regarding Organised and Unorganised Domestic Workers
There have been various initiatives taken by both central and state governments to ensure social security and legal protection to these workers. Unorganized workers social security Act, 2008, and the Sexual harassment for Women at Workplace ( Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 are some of the Acts, exclusively implemented for the victims of the exploitation in various domestic works. Domestic Workers (Registration, Social Security and Welfare) Act, 2008 was introduced to regulate payment and working conditions and check exploitation and trafficking of women and other young household workers. Although there is a pragmatic difficulty in separating the workers into the organised and unorganized sector, the Law is applicable to both sectors. The Act gives preference to women than men, due to their larger participation in the field of domestic work. The employment of minors in hazardous industries for the purpose if various domestic works have been noticed by the government, and hence various laws have been passed for the protection of these minors under different categories apart from the Labor Law. The Juvenile Justice Act, 2000 has come in rescue to the workers who are below the age of eighteen. However, the Child Labour Act prohibits working in hazardous industries by Children who are only above the age of 14.
Suggestions And Measures To Eliminate Major Fallacies In The Existing Labour Legislations.
Extant legislations in India, regulating domestic workers, are woefully inadequate in addressing their concerns. The government has undertaken a complete overhaul of the labor regime in India under which the multiple Central labor laws in the country will be amalgamated into four Labour Codes. The Draft Labour Code on Social Security and Welfare (“the Code”) has been released. The most important change brought about, concerning domestic workers, is their recognition as employees and the recognition of the household as a workplace. The Code envisages an apex body, the National Council, which shall act as the supervisory and monitoring body for the social security schemes that are to be framed by the Central and State Governments. Boards at the State level are to be responsible for the registration of workers and placement agencies and collection of contributions. A Central Board shall provide technical support and co-ordinate the functioning of the State Boards.
The Central government to avoid the further paradox, can classify the workers as an organized and unorganized sector and then make the legislations accordingly. Making single legislation would be a burden and lies many possibilities of ambiguity. So, dividing and structuring the legislation would also make the implementation process more precise, faster, and accurate.
As of now, there are no legislations concerning the Migrant Labour Forces. Due to the calamities and internal disturbances happening in various parts of our country, it is witnessing a large flow of interstate domestic migrants. Its high time to address the issues faced by these categories of migrants too.
The Government further must also try to abide by the constitution and ensure the right of these categories as soon as possible. Women play an active role in domestic work and it will be appreciated if the legislations are made in such a way that will benefit the women also. The legislations like the Maternity Benefit Act are to be encouraged more. The rights and equality issues of domestic workers including safety, working conditions, wages, social protection, employer’s expectations, and employer-employee relationships need to be made available to the domestic workers.
The government has to address the key issues like fixing fair minimum wages, provision of weekly days off and paid annual leaves, protection from physical and sexual abuse, social security, etc. across India’s states.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Swathi. Ashok. Nair is currently pursuing Law at the School of Legal Studies, CUSAT, Kerala.
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