When you hire a maid, it’s important to consider a number of factors. One such factor is paying your maid decently enough that she stays happy working at your place. In a recent notification, the Tamil Nadu government brought about reforms for maids in the state. The guidelines are meant for the unorganized sector that includes servants, home nurses, and semi-skilled help.
The concept of hourly compensation for “unskilled-labour” is not popular in India. To improve salaries and empower the workers, the state government has fixed the minimum hourly wage of ‘unskilled’ domestic workers as Rs 37 per hour. The remuneration for skilled workers like home nurses and semi-skilled helps like cooks and gardeners has been set at Rs 39 and Rs 38 per hour respectively.
Paying even a rupee less than Rs 37 may land you in jail
Any TN citizen found paying less than the wages set by the state government may get jailed. It is now mandatory that you pay your maid Rs 37 per hour for doing daily chores like sweeping, mopping, and washing utensils.
For an entire day’s chores (eight hours), the minimum wage is fixed at Rs 6,836 per month. The activities includes washing clothes and utensils, sweeping and mopping the floor and baby-sitting. As for qualified home nurses, they should be paid at least Rs 8,051 for similar work hours.
Wages for those who stay with their employers is supposedly 10% higher than this. It includes skilled, unskilled and semi-skilled labour and is exclusive of food, clothing, accommodation or any other benefits.
An eight-member committee, headed by the Deputy Commissioner of Labour, Coimbatore, recommended these steps to be taken after conducting various meetings with domestic workers’ unions, labour inspectors, and employers.
Valarmathi of the National Domestic Workers’ Movement said the minimum wage was too little. “When the government asked us for a recommendation, we had suggested Rs 75 per hour. The wage they have fixed now is what we had suggested in 2010. What we need is a living wage, not a minimum wage.”
“From January to June last year, we travelled to 10 districts and held discussions with domestic workers associations to understand their needs,” said a member of the committee. Besides interviews, the team also factored in the average consumer price index (CPI) in Chennai city in 2015 while fixing the rate, she said.
Employers found violating these guidelines can be tried under the Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act, 1976, Minimum Wages Act, 1948 along with Sections 370 and 374 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). Punishment for such violations goes up to seven years imprisonment.
SheThePeople.Tv spoke to a few people asking whether this should be implemented across the country. Below are their views:
Deepika Mhatre, a maid based in Mumbai, said, “It is a good law. The wage is still less. But it would help my fellow workers who are paid even less than this. And definitely, other states too should take such steps and a minimum wage should be fixed for maids all over the country. ”
43-year-old Deepika is a domestic help by day and a stand-up comedian by night. Talking about the wages maids get in our country, she said, “We are paid such a terribly little salary. We deserve a lot more than we actually get. Maids should be paid a decent amount of money. Because it will ruin your whole day if a maid won’t come to work for one day. We do all the household chores for people. We mop, clean, and cook food. If we won’t come to work, there will be a disturbance created in the life of our employer's house. Their houses would be left unclean, food would remain uncooked. Nobody thinks of us."
"We should be paid more and in a state like Mumbai, maids should be paid more. Employers should think of us and the states and the government should take the necessary steps to improve our condition. She should be paid decent enough that she is able to make a living and is happy working at your place.” - Deepika Mhatre
In one of her interviews, Shagun Singh Baruah said that her maid inspired her to come up with the idea of her venture Homework, a full house deep cleaning service provider. She feels that fair pay is their right. She said, “Fair pay should be the right of everyone. Unfortunately, people in our country aren’t very skilled and no one is willing to skill them. The cost of living in almost all metro cities in the country is very high. So a lot of the labour force comes to these metros with much hope that they will earn enough to be able to feed themselves and also send back home. Unfortunately, the reality of it hits them when they come here."
Adding to it, she said, "I can’t speak for Chennai but in Gurgaon, a domestic helper expects high salaries (as high as 8000-9000 bucks) irrespective of whether she/he knows the work or not.”
Comparing with the rest of the world she said, “India’s labour rates are low but so is the skill of the worker. So if someone is highly skilled, then asking for a higher salary is certainly justifiable. But only a trade test can reaffirm that and not a verbal dialogue.”
Deepali Is An Intern With SheThePeople.TV