Does Constitution secure the job of domestic workers during pandemic


UPSC Law Optional Mains Current affairs - Rights of Domestic workers post lockdown


What happened? Due to outburst of Covid-19, country faced national lockdown and every person had to sit at home. Although this had adversely affected almost every section of the society as well as other sectors yet domestic workers plight is different as they have lost their jobs.


Reason | This has happened because their jobs were not secure and pandemic lockdown is the reason for it. Domestic workers have faced not only financial crisis but have been denied salaries and has suffered harassment on the hands of employer.


Issue : Domestic workers do not have a legal regime that protect their job


Step for remedy | The issue of safeguarding rights of domestic workers has emerged out under Resident Welfare Associations. Different surveys have shown that domestic workers were not sure that they would be called back on work after lockdown will end. Therefore, 17 organizations and unions have come forward to form the Network of Rights and Voices of Domestic Workers.


Remedy suggested

National and regional campaigns can raise awareness amongst employers and employees about rights of domestic workers and reduce exploitation. Government must make legislations protecting rights of domestic workers and harassment at the hands of employers and impose penalties if any person deducts salary of employees unreasonably or tortures them. Domestic workers should be aware of fair working hours and should be paid more for working beyond these hours.

Legal provisions.


CONSITUTIONAL PROVISION :

  • Article 23 of the Constitution prohibits trafficking in humans as children or adults both man and woman are trafficked for forced labour or to work as slaves.

  • The Directive principle for state policy under Article 39(e) ensures that the health and strength of workers, men and women, and the tender age of children are not abused and that citizens are not forced by economic necessity to enter avocations unsuited to their age or strength.

  • Article 39(f) provides for protecting children from exploitation. Article 39(d) provides for equal pay for equal work irrespective of sex. Domestic workers still suffer and their rights are protected irrespective of so many legislations.


STATUTORY ACT :

  • Domestic Workers (Registration Social Security and Welfare) Act, 2008 provides that every registered domestic worker should receive pension, maternity benefits and paid leave i.e. paid weekly off.

  • Section 22 of the Act, 2008, a domestic worker living in the house is entitled to annual leave with wages for at least 15 days during the year.

  • Section 23 provides that any person who sexually harasses domestic worker or child will be punishable with imprisonment for not less than six months and which may extend upto period of 7 years or with a fine of Rs. 50000, or both.

  • Domestic Workers Recommendation, 2011 adopted by ILO affirmed fundamental rights of domestic workers which were binding for signatory nations.

WHAT OTHER COUNTRIES DO ?


Different nations have their own legislations to protect domestic workers irrespective of loopholes in them as in India still there is no proper legislation protecting or safeguarding rights of domestic workers. Countries like Canada, Philippines are considered to have good laws to protect and safeguard rights of domestic workers.


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