It's all over the news! An impressive legislative change has taken place in Rajasthan and that involves the government enforcing fixed minimum wages for domestic help along with set working hours.
And believe it or not, it's been long due. Because domestic workers were included in Scheduled 27 of the Minimum Wages Act eight years ago, but it's only now that a minimum wage has been fixed along with working hours to ensure that they're paid well.
So here's everything you need to know about this:
- The minimum wage has been set to 5,642 rupees every month for an eight-hour shift that included cooking, washing, baby -sitting, and other daily chores.
- Beyond eight hours, they will be paid double the rate fixed per hour.
- For domestic workers who only do chores like washing laundry and dishes, the minimum wage will be 705 rupees in a household of four people. If there are more than four people then 10 percent extra will be paid over the minimum. This 10 percent extra on each exceeding member.
- Surprise checks will be carried out and violators of the regulations will be penalized. And in the case of a violation, domestic workers will be eligible for compensation as much as 10 times the difference between the minimum wage and the amount he or she actually received.
- And finally, employers who already pay domestic workers more than the minimum wage can't reduce the salary.
Sounds impressive right?
But here's the problem. There's still much that needs attention.
For example, the employer is not liable to offer any benefits to his or her domestic worker like food, clothing or even stay. Plus there's no talk of social security, compulsory paid leave, maternity entitlements, crèche facilities or health benefits. All of which were important points in the proposal put forward by the Union Labour ministry last year.
And that's only a fraction of the problems that the notification doesn't address. Take for example the fact that a fixed wage of 705 rupees per month for a household of four means that a domestic worker will only be able to make close to 3,000 rupees a month (assuming she's working at a minimum of four households). Now, her (I say her because a majority of the workers are women) monthly wage is lesser than the 5,642 rupees set by the government.
So yes, kudos to the Rajasthan government for enforcing fixed minimum wages for domestic workers (about time!). But as is with policy, we need to redo the math. Probably go back to the drawing board and chart out some realistic numbers.
Only then do we have something to be proud about.