- Common Cause, along with the National Platform For Domestic Workers (NPDW) and Aruna Roy, has filed a writ petition in the Supreme Court (SC) pleading for directions by the Court to ensure fair and humane working conditions for domestic workers.
- The petition has pleaded SC to urgently intervene to acknowledge domestic help as a “service for pay” and be included under the Minimum Wages Act, 1948 in all states’ as well as the central schedule.
- The petition asked also the Supreme Court to lay down guidelines to protect the workers’ rights and issue appropriate writ, order or direction to the Union to take following measures to ameliorate their condition:
- By inter alia notification of minimum wages, compulsory weekly and annual paid leaves.
- Extension of maternity leave benefits.
- Collective bargaining through organized legal unions.
- First response complaints authority.
- Extending socio economic rights of pension and healthcare as provided to the workers of organized sector.
- In addition to this, the petition also argued for the following in line with ILO Convention 189, until a law is brought in place.
- Maximum 8 hours of duty per day, weekly rest.
- The right to paid leaves and mandatory weekly off as a basic right under Article 21.
- Notice of termination and one month’s salary in lieu of notice of termination.
- Moreover, a Committee of Experts should be appointed under the supervision of the Supreme Court to suggest means to regulate domestic workers’ employment agencies, terms and conditions of dignified employment of domestic workers as well as setting up of a mechanism for dispute resolution.
- The domestic workers suffer from vulnerabilities like absence of proper documentation, rarely negotiated employment contracts, terms of employment at whims of the employer etc.
- The Indian homes have witnessed a 120% increase in domestic workers in the decade post liberalisation. “While the figure was 7,40,000 in 1991, it has increased to 16.6 lakh in 2001, according to the petition.