New Delhi: The government on Thursday deferred a proposal on giving domestic workers the right over minimum wages, paid leave and regulated working hours under a national policy. The national policy for domestic workers, which would benefit over 6.4 million domestic workers, was slated to be taken up by the Union Cabinet for consideration.
The proposal, recommended by National Advisory Council (NAC) headed by Sonia Gandhi in April 2009, aimed at bringing domestic workers under the purview of existing labour laws, thus providing them all the rights and protection available to other workers. Gandhi had written to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, saying the proposed policy should ensure remuneration without sex discrimination and protection against sexual harassment at work place to the target group. Labour and Employment Ministry had set up a task force to frame the policy spelling out a comprehensive social coverage for the huge domestic workforce such as paid annual leave and sick leave, protection from sexual harassment and social security coverage, including maternity benefits.
The policy could also bestow on them the right to form trade unions. The NAC had suggested coverage for domestic workers under social security as provided in the Unorganised Sector Social Security Act 2008, including maternity benefits and entitlement to a safe and healthy place to stay, besides sufficient food. It had also suggested safe working environment and protection from accidents.