Representation to the Union Ministry of Home Affairs for immediate action to mitigate the suffering and to safeguard the interests of India's domestic workers
On May 12, 2020, Common Cause submitted a representation to Mr Amit Shah, Union Minister of Home Affairs, highlighting the plight of domestic workers during the COVID-19 crisis. It requested the Government of India to issue a specific order to include domestic workers in the category of ‘migrant workers’ and ‘daily wagers,’ so that they receive at least 50% of their monthly wages under the aegis of the urban local bodies and the residents’ welfare societies. This was in response to a circular issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs on March 29, 2020, detailing protections for migrant workers as a specific category. Common Cause’s suggestions are summarised as follows:
- Local government bodies should immediately ensure that domestic workers are paid by their employers during the lockdown in a non-coercive way. (If the employers themselves are in acute financial distress, the wages should be paid from an especially created fund). MHA had earlier issued directions to employers to make wage payments on due dates to all employees for the entire period of the closure of their industries. We recommended the immediate issuance of a similar order for domestic workers, to mitigate their miseries.
- If the states do not possess data on domestic workers, we suggested that a registry of names and contact details of all domestic workers/ households be created in conjunction with Resident Welfare Associations (RWAs) and other similar bodies. The Municipal Corporation should work with the RWAs to ensure their wage payments for the lockdown period.
- The Union Government has been working on a national policy to regulate domestic workers. We pointed out that the present crisis is a good opportunity to take steps in the same direction in the spirit of cooperative federalism.
- We also advocated for the creation of a national-level task force to provide a just solution to the long-term problems of domestic workers.