01 July 2010
By Subodh Ghildiyal
New Delhi, India
It means government will register workers, mostly maids working in domestic households, to give them insurance benefit. The move may usher in regulation of the largest unorganised sector in India. The proposal also seeks compulsory registration of placement agencies to check exploitation of domestic workers employed in households.
Putting placement agencies under the Shops and Commercial Establishments Act, 1953, will bring the records of domestic helps employed through them under scrutiny. The practice of middlemen cornering commissions and getting meagre salaries to the helps will come under scrutiny as will the exploitation of helps beyond normal work hours.
Sources said a Cabinet note based on the report of "task force on domestic workers" to extend social security to unorganised workers has been circulated to different central ministries for comments.
The task force has recommended that RSBY, a health insurance scheme offering up to Rs 30,000 for BPL families, be extended to domestic helps.
If the move bears fruit, it will mean a protective umbrella for the largely tribal and backward population from Orissa, Jharkhand, West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh.
The task force said the domestic workforce, mostly women, was unable to negotiate the ways of cities and ended up being exploited financially, and even sexually. If approved, the state labour departments will register the domestic workers and enroll them under the insurance scheme.
The financial implication of the move may be significant with the task force pegging the domestic workforce at 4.75 million, while adding it may be "gross underestimation".