Domestic Workers In India: Need For Effective Social Regulations
A nation should take its unique internal characteristics into account while making laws. Copying successful techniques from other countries or even combining good international practices is difficult to be beneficial when there is insufficient consideration for domestic issues. These projects are likely to be badly executed or, more importantly, to have unexpected consequences since they are blind to the reality on the ground.
This research study aims to create a framework for social security for domestic workers in India. One of the most oppressed categories of people in the world are domestic workers. Over 4.75 million people work as domestic servants in India. As the urban middle class rises, so will the demand for domestic assistance.
Rising Issues & Challenges
One of the biggest issues is the lack of economic stability that domestic employees experience as a result of their labor. In the event of illness, an accident, or financial needs for their families, workers are left at the employers’ disposal, who assist them out of goodwill. It is considerably worse for employees who must continue working in hostile circumstances out of fear of losing their only source of income.
Domestic workers today deal with a wide variety of challenges. We must first comprehend their weaknesses and issues in order to create adequate defenses against them. Even very talented domestic workers may eventually receive economic benefits based on a qualitative evaluation of their abilities. In this instance, litigation may be used in an unfair way to address the issues they are having. Litigation is not very useful in India because of a slow and overworked judiciary. Even part-time and live-in employees experience problems as a result of a lack of joint representation. Live-in employees are more at risk since they are totally reliant on their employer for both money and non-financial benefits. Their occupation is inextricably linked to facilities for basic food and housing, regular hours, hour shifts, overtime, and other obstacles; these issues will not be resolved solely by financial considerations, such a minimum wage. In general, part-time workers are less vulnerable than live-in workers in this regard because they spend less time overall in vulnerable situations and are less dependent on a single employer for survival.
As a result, while identical difficulties may exist for part-time employees, their importance is overshadowed by financial considerations. Second, occupational abuse against domestic employees is a common occurrence in India. India’s lowest socioeconomic classes frequently lack knowledge of their legal rights and options. Furthermore, they have little choice but to put up with abusive working conditions in order to maintain economic stability given their dependence on wages for subsistence.
Even when they do make an effort to exercise their rights, they run with institutional racism and indifference. Households are left at the mercy of employers since there is no regulatory framework, and they frequently experience physical and sexual abuse with no way to report it. Third, discrimination against workers is a frequent occurrence in India. Indian domestic employees, especially live-in domestic workers, are a prime example of caste and class prejudice. Discriminatory behavior is fostered when servants are employed. Frequently, domestic workers who live at home with their families are demoted to a lower position. They are especially more susceptible to socioeconomic bias because these domestic employees frequently originate from low-income households. Due to the imbalance of power between employers and domestic employees—where the employer asserts authority over the latter and a perception of caste- or class-based supremacy over the former—domestic laborers are subjected to exploitation and harsh treatment. When bias is internalized by domestic employees, it has significant psychological repercussions, including identity loss. Fourth, there is no social insurance to safeguard domestic workers. Like other informal employees, domestic workers who work part-time and live in the home have little to no access to essential social security benefits like health care, unemployment insurance, or maternity benefits. Because systemic nutritional deficiency is so common, domestic workers’ incomes are typically below the minimum wage, and their lack of social security has a crippling effect on their ability to support themselves in the event of health problems.
Additionally, a significant portion of domestic workers are women who experience sexual abuse in their personal relationships and have little to no control over the process of giving birth. Due to the absence of maternity benefits, the majority of them quit their jobs as well as the stability of a meager income. They also have a poorer social and economic position than other informal laborers because they are rarely recognized as “workers.” It’s time to look at how our current legal system has attempted to deal with these issues.
Findings: Problems & Security Issues
The domestic worker must have access to social security in order to reduce their financial and social risks. In parallel, further measures must be taken to ensure that domestic workers have access to social security, including removing obstacles to implementation like an excess of employees, a lack of dispute resolution procedures, etc. Social security should therefore be introduced concurrently with numerous other programs meant to improve the situation of domestic workers.
Welfare-Boards: According to the measures done by the governments of Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, and Kerala166, it is suggested that Welfare Boards for domestic workers be established in each district. An independent Board that is solely focused on domestic workers will be ideal given the large number of domestic employees in the nation, particularly in urban areas. Boards ought to be domestic workers’ initial points of contact
Funding for Social Security: To finance the project, domestic worker pay and an additional property tax, similar to that in Argentina, must be used. Two additional objectives will be met by this kind of standardized tax: first, it will address the problem of personal allowance collection by strengthening the revenue collection process on its own, obviating the need to set up a separate framework for collecting donations from particular employers, and second, it will not discourage the hiring of domestic workers.
Settlement of Dispute: The resolution of disputes with domestic workers might be hazardous. Domestic homes wouldn’t hire local workers if dispute resolution procedures were strict or burdensome. Conciliation is the preferred method of dispute resolution, and nations all over the world have recognized the need for such a process. We thus suggest that the Boards be given the authority to use conciliation to settle conflicts between domestic employees and their employers. In the long run, these powers might be increased to include binding arbitration depending on how effective the Boards are now.
The government’s attitude on domestic workers needs to drastically shift in the long run. Domestic workers’ intense competition needs to be restrained and controlled. Otherwise, it would be useless to try to legitimize the business through regulation. When minimum wages are established, someone who is ready to work for less money will almost certainly replace a domestic worker who demands the minimum pay, for example. The lower-paid worker would be skeptical of government attempts to establish a minimum wage in order to keep her new position, which would make the entire business more informal and sceptical of government authorities. Threatening firms with harsh fines if they reduce pay or hours worked could be counterproductive. Threatening businesses with significant fines for regulating pay or working hours may be counterproductive because it deters employers from hiring domestic employees, who would be replaced by formal services like tiffin or meal services or sophisticated technology. Yes, domestic workers’ concerns should be taken into consideration, but so should those who work in rural or semi-rural households.
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