A file photo of a protestby domestic workers.
The draft national policy for domestic workers, likely to be announced this month, will leave it to States to set up boards to register workers, to bring them into the social security net and to notify minimum wages and work timings, according to a senior official at the Ministry of Labour and Employment.
Domestic worker unions and NGOs, who have been demanding a Central legislation, providing for inter-state registrations of domestic workers, with centrally-set norms for wages, working hours and social security benefits, expressed disappointment at the proposed draft.
“There is no Central board being proposed,” the senior official said, adding that boards of registration could be set up at State, district, or even Resident Welfare Association (RWA) level. These boards would administer social security benefits for workers, including Provident Fund contribution by employers and medical insurance, said the official.
The official said the draft policy would make recommendations on working hours, leave entitlements and minimum wages, but would leave it to states to notify them in accordance with their existing legislations.
“We have left it quite open...states will have to take the final call,” the official said.
Nod in two weeks
Similarly, the draft policy envisages that States would set up mechanisms to register and regulate placement agencies for domestic workers, with no provision for Central regulation, said the official, adding that the draft is likely to be approved within the next two weeks. A national policy for domestic workers has been discussed for at least a decade. The process to draft this latest version began in October 2017.
“We need a Central legislation to regulate domestic workers, as this is an inter-state issue,” said Subhash Bhatnagar, one of the convenors of the National Platform of Domestic Workers. “90 per cent of domestic workers today are migrants.”