The central government is framing a national policy that proposes a minimum salary of Rs9,000 per month along with social security cover like mandatory leave and retirement benefits to skilled full-time household help, thereby ensuring an expanded base for service tax collection.
The draft policy proposes separate minimum monthly wages for unskilled, semi-skilled, skilled and highly-skilled categories of the domestic workers.
"Highly-skilled and those giving full-time service should be eligible to get a salary of at least Rs 9,000 per month," the official said.
The draft 'National Policy for Domestic Workers', which would soon be moved for cabinet approval, also calls for provisions against sexual harassment and bonded labour, and recommends compulsory paid leave of 15 days a year as also the maternity leave.
It also has a provision for mandatory contribution from the employer towards social security of the domestic worker.
The idea of empowering the domestic worker is to create a fresh service sector cadre and bring such services under the service tax network.
This could act as a major source of service tax.
Once the policy comes into force, it will be binding on the employer to enter into a tripartite agreement with the worker and the intermediary agency that connects the two, a senior labour ministry official said.
The draft policy provides that the domestic workers be provided a safe environment and the right to pursue education. It also calls for a grievance redressal mechanism.
While the government proposes to curb workers' rights in private establishments to make it easy for employers to hire and fire workers, in the case of domestic workers, the labour ministry wants to empower them with the right to form groups and engage with each other for 'collective bargaining'.
According to the labour ministry, domestic workers are the most exploited category of workers and it is therefore necessary to frame laws for their welfare and protection.
A draft note in this regard, prepared by the Director General Labour Welfare (DGLW), was submitted to labour minister Bandaru Dattatreya last week.
The policy framework is on par with the standards of the International Labour Organisation, which is binding on India as well.
The policy for domestic workers was in the works since 2007 and was before the cabinet twice - first in 2013 and then in 2014 – but was later on referred to the group of ministers because of the collective bargaining clause and the right to form association that ILO insists on.
The revised draft includes both these points.