Constitutional provisions

  • Article 23 of the Constitution prohibits traffic in human being and beggar and other similar forms of forced labour.
  • Article 24 of the Constitution prohibits employment of children below 14 years of age in factories and hazardous employment. This provision is certainly in the interest of public health and safety of life of children.
  • Article 43 requires the State to take steps, by suitable legislation or in any other way to secure the participation of workers in the management of undertakings, establishments or other organizations engaged in any industry. Article 43 refers to a “living wage” and not “minimum wage”. The concept of living wage includes in addition to the bare necessities of life, such as food, shelter and clothing, provisions for education of children and insurance etc.

Related acts and policies

  • The Unorganised Workers’ Social Security Act 2008: The State Governments are mandated to register the Unorganised Workers and to provide benefits of welfare schemes other than the three basic social security schemes of the Central Government i.e. (i) life and disability cover, (ii) health and maternity benefits, and (iii) old age protection.
    • Envisages creating National Social Security Board which will be chaired by Union Minister for Labour and Employment Director General (Labour Welfare) as Member-Secretary [both ex-officio].
    • Envisages creating State Social Security Board at state level which will be chaired by Minister for Labour and Employment of the concerned state the Principal Secretary or Secretary (Labour) as Member-secretary [both ex-officio].
  • National Policy on Skill Development: The target group for skill development comprises all those in the labour force, including those entering the labour market for the first time (12.8 million annually), those employed in the organized sector and those working in the unorganized sector. India has set a target of skilling 500 million people by 2022.

Issues in unorganized sector

  • Issues of domestic workers
    • NGO Common Cause says they are prone to violence and abuse at the hands of their employers and placement agencies
    • Absence of proper documentation increases their reliance on employers to access social security benefits.
    • India witnessed a 120% increase in domestic workers in the decade post liberalization.
    • domestic work falls under the purview of state sphere

General issues

  • Insufficient labour laws causes low regulatory framework.
  • No social security affecting their consumption pattern and overall social development.
  • No guaranteed minimum wages and temporary nature of the work.
  • Bonded labour and Child Labour prevails.
  • For working Women issue of harassment at work place is higher than formal workplaces.
  • Low literacy rates among them reduces their demanding power.
  • Low incomes
  • Vulnerable to diseases due to lack of hygiene

Scheme for the unorganised sector in India

  • Aam Admi Bima Yojna
  • Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojna
  • Atal Pension Yojana
  • Janani Suraksha Yojana
  • National Family Benefit Scheme

Way forward

  • Discussions are underway regarding a Policy for Domestic Workers, the salient features of which are as follows:
    • Inclusion of Domestic Workers in the existing legislations
    • Registration of Domestic workers.
    • Right to form their own associations, trade unions
    • Right to have minimum wages, access to social security, protection from abuse, harassment, violence
    • Right to enhance their professional skills
    • Protection of Domestic Workers from abuse and exploitation
    • Domestic Workers to have access to courts, tribunals, etc.
    • Establishment of a mechanism for regulation of placement agencies.
  • Many of the State Government like Rajasthan, Kerala, Punjab, Tamilnadu and Tripura have included domestic workers in the schedule of the Minimum Wages Act and workers are, therefore, entitled to file cases before the concerned authorities in case of any grievance in this regard. These should be followed by other states as well
  • India need to ratify International Labour Organisation’s Convention 189 on Decent Work for Domestic Workers.