When creating a law, a country should keep its internal peculiarities in
account. Within lack of adequate regard for domestic concerns, copying effective
strategies from other nations or even combining good worldwide practises is
difficult to be beneficial. These initiatives, which are blind to the reality on
the ground, are likely to be poorly implemented or, more, to have unintended
The purpose of this research paper is to try to design a framework for domestic
workers' social security in India. Domestic workers constitute one of the
biggest oppressed groups of people on the world. In India, over 4.75 million
people serve as domestic servants. The need for domestic helpers is going to
expand as the urban middle class grows.
The absence of economic stability that household employees have as a result of
the labour is among the greatest problems. Workers are left at the disposal of
their employers in the case of disease, accident, or economic requirements for
their families, who help them solely as a favour. Workers who are forced to keep
operating in harsh and unfriendly environments for afraid of ruining their sole
means of revenue have it much worse.
This research paper aims to make recommendations for this system that is
tailored to the unique needs of domestic employees in India. It acknowledges
that disparate and segregated programmers are inadequate to provide employees
with appropriate security. The proposed social security system is a
decentralized concept that integrates social security alongside various primary
issues like minimum wages, developing skills, and raising domestic workers'
knowledge and negotiating ability.
Such recommendations are based on an examination of current legislative laws for
domestic workers in India as well as best practices from other countries who
have had some progress in creating social protection to domestic employees.
Problems faced by Domestic Workers:
- Zubair Ahmad Khan and Hina Varshney, Implementation of the Labour
Welfare Provisions for Women Workers in the Unorganised Sector in India: A
Critical Analysis 21 ALJ 62, 67-69 (2013-14).
This article addresses the legislative context as well as the gaps in social
security coverage for unorganised sector employees in India. It focuses
mostly on the women workers in this unorganised sector and attempts to
demonstrate that the law is still not equitable for women in this sector as
it is for women in the organised sector. This article does not deal
specifically with domestic workers in India and thus differs from the
current paper. However, because this paper deals with the plight of women in
a sector, it was referred to understand the legal gap in the same.
- Shraddha Gome, Decent Work For Domestic Workers: Reflections in the
Indian Legal Context 4.1, IJLPP 76, 80-85 (2017).
This article is about domestic workers in India and their circumstances.
Although the larger notion of this article and the present paper are the
same, this article differs from the current paper in that it focuses on the
job type of domestic employees and whether such work type and workers may be
categorised as workmen under labour laws. This primarily focuses on the
nature of such workers' labour and the legal loopholes they confront as a
result of it
The difficulties that domestic workers face today are numerous and diverse. To
develop sufficient safeguards against them, we must first understand their
vulnerabilities and problems. Domestic workers, even very gifted individuals,
might eventually be offered cash benefits based on a qualitative appraisal of
their talents. In this case, the difficulties they face may be handled in a
biassed manner through litigation. Due to a delayed and overburdened judiciary,
litigation is of little practical utility in India.
Due to a lack of joint
representation, even part-time and live-in employees suffer. The danger is
higher for live-in employees, who are entirely dependent on their company for
both financial and non-financial advantages. Facilities for basic food and
accommodation, regular hours, hour shifts, overtime, and other related
challenges are intrinsically tied to their profession and will not be handled
just by financial concerns, such as a minimum pay. Part-time employees, in
general, are less vulnerable than live-in workers in this aspect, because the
short time spent in different families reduces overall vulnerability and
reliance on a single employer for survival.
As a result, while similar challenges may arise for part-time workers, their
significance pales in contrast to monetary considerations. Second, domestic
workers in India are routinely vulnerable to workplace abuse. People from lower
socioeconomic strata in India are often uninformed of their rights and remedies.
Furthermore, given their dependency on wages for subsistence, they have little
alternative but to put up with exploitative working conditions in order to
preserve economic stability1.
Even when they do attempt to exercise their
rights, they are confronted with institutional indifference and discrimination.
Due to the lack of a regulatory framework, households are left at the mercy of
employers, and they are routinely exposed to physical and sexual abuse with no
recourse. Third, employees in India are routinely subjected to discrimination.
Domestic workers in India, particularly live-in domestic workers, represent
caste and class discrimination.
When servants are employed, discriminatory conduct is encouraged. Domestic
workers who live at home with their family are frequently degraded to a lower
position in the household. Because these domestic workers are often from
low-income households, they are particularly more prone to socioeconomic bias.
Domestic employees are exposed to exploitative and harsh treatment as a result
of the power imbalance between employers and domestic workers, with the employer
asserting control over domestic workers and a sense of caste-based or classist
dominance over domestic workers. Domestic workers' internalisation of bias has
far-reaching psychological consequences, including loss of identity. Fourth,
domestic workers are not protected by social insurance.
Part-time and presently
residing domestic workers, like other informal workers, have limited or no
access to basic social security benefits including healthcare, unemployment
insurance, or maternity benefits. Domestic workers' income is usually less than
the minimum wage, and their lack of social security has a paralysing impact on
their livelihood in the event of health difficulties, which are prevalent owing
to systemic nutritional inadequacy.
Furthermore, a big proportion of domestic
employees are women who are sexually abused by their husbands in their personal
lives and have little or no say in the delivery. The majority of them lose their
careers as well as the security of a small income due to the lack of maternity
benefits. Furthermore, in comparison to other informal labourers, they are
rarely acknowledged as "workers," giving them a lower social and economic
status. Now is a good moment to examine how our current legal system has
attempted to address such challenges.
Analysis of the laws for Domestic Workers:
- Minimum Wages Act, 1948
Various pre-existing laws, such the Minimum Pay Act of 1948 for wage regulation,
have been expanded to include domestic workers in order to address specific
difficulties. As of the end of 2013, only eleven states had included home chores
to the Supplement to the Minimum Wage Act of 1948. Furthermore, over half of the
states, including Uttar Pradesh, the most populous in the country, have yet to
set a basic salary for domestic workers.
The implementation record is abysmal,
even in countries where minimum wages for domestic staff have been established,
obliterating any practical distinction between governments with and without
minimum wages. As a result, Rajasthan and Jharkhand imposed three and eight
charges, respectively, under the Minimum Wage Act of 1948, across all
categories, including both official and unofficial occupations. Given the
State's meticulous approach to investigating and prosecuting households, it's
safe to conclude that neither of those involved domestic workers. Basic wage
announcements would be impeded further by a lack of knowledge among all parties
engaged in the trade, especially domestic servants, bosses, and labour
inspectors (especially in rural areas), making enforcement much more difficult.
There are several genuine difficulties, in addition to practical issues, with
these types of warnings. According to the ILO Report on Minimum Wages , the
minimum wage and market pay have no relationship. Domestic workers, for example,
are paid even less than subsistence rates. In certain circumstances, market
compensation exceeds the minimum wage, while in others, market prices are lower.
There is no distinction between rural and urban minimum salaries, which are
decided by the expenditures of domestic employees. With the exception of the
requirement to be paid additional wages, many states have no regulations
limiting working hours, which is exceedingly difficult for stay-at-home domestic
- Sexual Harassment Act, 2013:
This very same Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition,
and Redressal) Act, 2013 (the "Act of 2013")  established a district-level
complaint handling method called the Local Complaints Committee, which would
have the authority to grant financial compensation, to combat sexual harassment
in individual households. The aforementioned Act is simply not meant to address
more serious offences, such as those involving domestic workers. Not only is the
Act of 2013 fraught with flaws and insufficient safeguards, but possibly the
laws that are in existence are generally unrecognised and uninitialized. In
practise, the Act of 2013 appears to have minimal impact on the lives of
- Judicial Decisions:
Despite the lack of statutory labour legislation to protect domestic workers'
rights, the judiciary has recognised their plight. The Delhi High Court
attempted to solve the aforementioned gap by developing proposals for the Child
Welfare Committee and the Delhi Commission for Women, his custodian, or
the employer, the two entities have been given the power to notify the employer
or enrolment entity to: award remuneration to such domestic worker in situations
of serious harm caused by the employment; and provide medical assistance to
Such limits, imposed by presidential decrees, are
embedded in legislation directed at women (in Delhi) and children,limiting
the number of domestic employees to whom it may apply. restricting the number of
domestic workers to whom they may apply. Furthermore, limited social security is
only available after filing complaints with the competent authorities, and the
worker does not have an inherent right to social security. As a result, it is
merely another foolish attempt to protect domestic workers.
Result of the combined effect of a shortage of particular law, a shortage of
understanding of relevant regulations, and inadequate enforcement of current
legislation, domestic workers experience significant monetary, physical, and
sexual assault with no remedy. Following a thorough examination of the primary
issues confronting domestic workers, it is clear why we require specific laws
and regulatory mechanisms to handle domestic worker issues.
To lessen the domestic worker's financial and social risks, he or she must have
access to social security. Simultaneously, further steps must be implemented to
guarantee that domestic workers have recourse to social security, such as
reducing hurdles to execution, such as excess of employees, an absence of
dispute resolution processes, and etc. As a result, social security and many
other initiatives aimed at alleviating the condition of domestic employees
should be implemented at the same time.
It is proposed that Welfare Boards for domestic workers be constituted in each
district, in accordance with the initiatives taken by the governments of Tamil
Nadu, Maharashtra, and Kerala166. Because of the high number of domestic workers
in the country, particularly in urban areas, an autonomous Board dedicated
entirely to domestic workers will be perfect. Boards should be the first point
of contact for domestic employees.
Domestic worker registration should be
made mandatory, and the Board should have the ability to fine families that
employ unregistered domestic workers. Given that almost all urban homes use
domestic workers, the Board's initial efforts will necessitate reaching out to
individual households to encourage adherence to the mandatory registration
- Funding for Social Security:
Domestic worker wages and the imposition of an additional property tax, like in
Argentina, must be utilised to support the project. A standardised tax of this
type will achieve two additional goals: first, it will address the issue of
personal allowance collection by reinforcing the revenue collection process on
its own, eliminating the need to set up a separate framework for collecting
donations from specific employers; and second, it will not discourage the
employment of domestic workers.
The Department of Economic Affairs indicated in the Economic Survey 2016-17 that
property tax rates in India were comparatively low, and that boosting
property taxes would give an immediate chance to earn money locally. As a
consequence, any additional stress would be minimal.
- Settlement of Dispute
Conflict resolution is dangerous in the case of domestic staff. If dispute
resolution techniques were harsh or onerous, domestic households would be
deterred from recruiting local personnel. Countries all across the world have
recognised the need for a quick and easy dispute resolution mechanism, with
conciliation being the favoured technique. As a result, we propose that the
Boards be empowered to use conciliation to resolve disputes between domestic
employees and their employers. Depending on how effective the Boards are, these
powers may be expanded in the long run to include binding arbitration.
When conciliation is refused or is not an effective method of resolving a
disagreement, the Board shall also be responsible for assisting domestic workers
in approaching the courts by connecting them with the appropriate legal
- Intermediary regulation
Individuals recruited through placement agencies would also be eligible for
welfare benefits under the revised definition of domestic employees. Placement
firms must also be brought within the purview of the proposed Welfare Boards,
with the Boards responsible for holding joint partners accountable in cases of
worker non-registration. However, RWA concerns may be efficiently addressed by
encouraging domestic workers to organise unions. Domestic employees would be
able to take action against risk-weighted assets without fear of economic
insecurity, and collective action would be an excellent tool for reining in RWAs'
In the long term, the government's stance toward domestic workers will need to
change dramatically. The strong competitiveness of domestic staff should be
tempered and regulated. Otherwise, any attempt to legitimise the enterprise
through regulation would be fruitless. When minimum wages are declared, a
domestic worker's demand for minimum wage, for example, will almost surely
result in her being replaced by someone willing to work for less money.
maintain her new position, the lower-paid worker would be wary of government
attempts to impose minimum wage, making the entire industry more informal and sceptical of government authorities. Threatening businesses with severe fines
for limiting wages or working hours may backfire. Threatening companies with
heavy fines for controlling compensation or working hours may be
counterproductive since it discourages employers from hiring domestic workers,
who would be replaced by modern technology or formal services such as tiffin or
meal services. While domestic workers' concerns should indeed be addressed,
those employed in rural/semi-urban households should also be taken into account.
Proper implementation of rural development policies, such as the National Rural
Employment Plan Guarantee and the Pradhan Mantri Rural Sadak Yojana, should
reduce urban migration and, as a result, tough competition among domestic
servants. Domestic workers in both urban and rural locations would benefit
enormously from global social security systems such as food and nutrition
security, free healthcare, and free education.
The problems that domestic
workers face cannot be solved in isolation. They are part of a larger problem
that must be addressed as such. The study's special legal provisions concerning
domestic workers must be complemented with other social welfare initiatives.
- Zubair Ahmad Khan and Hina Varshney, Implementation of the Labour Welfare Provisions for Women Workers in the Unorganised Sector in India: A Critical Analysis 21 ALJ 62, 67-69 (2013-14).
- International Labour Office, Social Protection Department (SOCPRO), Geneva, Social protection for domestic workers : key policy trends and statistics, 10 (2016).
- The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013, No. 14, Acts of Parliament, 2013 (India)
- The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000 � 29 No. 56, Acts of Parliament, 2000 (India)
- The Delhi Commission for Women Act, 1994 � 3 No. 8, Acts of Delhi State Legislature, 1994 (India)
- Bachpan Bachao v. Union of India, 2010 SCC OnLine Del 4613 : (2011) 177 DLT 198.
- Government of National Territory of Delhi, Labour Department, Order No. Addl. LC/Misc(2)/12/Lab/Part File/1438, November 15, 2022.
- 11 Supra at 5.
- Surbhi Kapur and PrasanaSethy, Working and Living Conditions of Workers in Unorganized Sector - A Review of Literature, 4 Research Gate 197, 220-222 (2014).
- Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance, Economic Survey 2016-17, Chapter 14 �305.