Entitlements of Domestic Workers in India: Welfare or Right
Domestic workers, constitute a large population of workforce in India, has been absent from legal landscape of labour laws of the country. The nature of employment, employer-employee relationship and indeterminate work environment are amongst several factors to deny the statutory benefits to domestic workers. The absence of statutory safeguards makes the workers vulnerable and reasons to exploit them from the hand market forces. The labour market refuses to acknowledge the domestic workers as ‘worker’ under employment related laws. The government has enunciated policies with an aim to ameliorate the livelihood conditions of domestic workers. The policies, broadly, treat the domestic workers at par with marginalized and poor sections of the society. Though the policies aim to improve the conditions of the workers, they fall short of conferring claimable interest upon domestic workers. The absence of a legal right on domestic worker absolve the state from committing to quality of life to them. The welfare-oriented policies have created choice-based implementation mechanism whereas the right-based would obligate the state to commit to the legal rights independent of conditionalities such as resources, political will or bargaining capacity of the workers. The chapter unravels the definitional content of ‘domestic workers’ as elucidated in different international and national literature. It elaborates the applicability of existing laws and policies on labour laws in relation to domestic workers. It helps in building the argument that there is a need to make paradigm shift in legal approach from welfare-based to right-based in order to ensure adequate protection to a large constituents of the workforce who are making significant contribution in economic growth of the country.
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