The Banyan Shades

Domestic Workers in India

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As per the  National Sample Survey (NSSO Statistics -2011-2012,68th round) an estimated 40 lakh people are employed as domestic workers by private households, of which 26 lakhs are female domestic workers (Government of India, 2019).

Reasons for the high demand for domestic workers in India:

  • Indian affluent classes have had a history of employing domestic workers. This has infused aspirations in the newly affluent to adopt the same practice.
  • Low employment generation in alternate professions.
  • Uncertain household income generation prospects have led to an increase in the supply of such workers.
  • Changes in income distribution and GDP growth patterns due to the liberal economic reforms in the country has created a new middle class that is able to afford such workers. 

Contribution Of Domestic Workers To The Economy

  • Increasing paid job opportunities for women and men workers with family responsibilities (Convention C189 – Domestic Workers Convention, 2011 (No. 189), 2011), 
  • Greater scope for caring for aging populations, children, and persons with a disability (Convention C189 – Domestic Workers Convention, 2011 (No. 189), 2011), and 
  • Substantial income transfers within and between countries (Convention C189 – Domestic Workers Convention, 2011 (No. 189), 2011).

Issues faced:

  • Domestic work continues to be undervalued and invisible (Convention C189 – Domestic Workers Convention, 2011 (No. 189), 2011).
  • It is mainly carried out by women and girls.
  • These women need to enlist the help of an older sibling or young relative to take care of their offspring, which affects the child’s health and education and the worker’s productivity (Beri, 2020).
  • Many of them are migrants or members of disadvantaged communities (Beri, 2020).
  • They are particularly vulnerable to discrimination in respect of conditions of employment and of work, and to other abuses of human rights (Beri, 2020).
  • Exploitation by placement agencies.
  • In most cases, they don’t enjoy access to social security benefits. 
  • Developing countries have had historically scarce opportunities for formal employment. As a result, domestic workers constitute a significant proportion of the national workforce. Hence, a large section of the society remains marginalized.
  • Lack of access to education and skills training makes it difficult to achieve upward mobility.

Current govt initiatives:

  • Unorganized Workers’ Social Security Act, 2008
    • Provides social security relating to life and disability cover, health and maternity benefits, old age protection to unorganized workers including domestic workers.
  • National Old Age Pension Scheme (Ministry of Rural Development) (Government of India, 2019);
  • National Family Benefit Scheme (Ministry of Rural Development) (Government of India, 2019);
  • Janani Suraksha Yojana (Ministry of Health and Family Welfare) (Government of India, 2019),
  • Ayushman Bharat (Ministry of Health and Family Welfare) (Government of India, 2019)
  • Insurance schemes:
    • Aam Aadmi Bima Yojana (AABY) (Government of India, 2019),
    • Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Jyoti Bima Yojana (PMJJBY) (Government of India, 2019), and 
    • Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojana (PMSBY) (Government of India, 2019)
  • Exclusive organizations and trade unions set up for domestic workers have already been registered in several states. 
  • Domestic Workers Sector Skills Council has been established under the Ministry of Skills Development to enable the professionalization of domestic workers and enable their career progression (Government of India, 2019).

Way Forward:

  • Encouraging the use of the power of collective bargaining for domestic workers.
  • Ensuring elimination of discrimination in respect of employment and occupation.
  • Increasing subscription of domestic workers to associations, organizations, and unions mandated to look out for their best interests.
  • Inclusion of Domestic Workers in the existing legislation, where they are recognized as unorganized workers and hence, facilitate their access to rights and benefits.
  • Protect their right to minimum wages, and access to social security.
  • Protect and implement their right to enhance their skills.
  • Ensure access to courts, and tribunals for grievance redressal (Government of India, 2019).
  • Establishment of a mechanism for regulation of private placement agencies (Government of India, 2019).
  • Establishment of a grievance redressal system for domestic workers (Government of India, 2019).
  • Provide protection for Domestic Workers from abuse and exploitation (Government of India, 2019).
  • Inclusion of Domestic Workers as a specific category of workers (with the home as the workplace) in the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition, and Redressal) Act (2013).
  • Require that domestic workers being employed receive a written job offer or contract of employment that is enforceable.
  • Ensure weekly rest of at least 24 consecutive hours.


The high participation of women in the sector adds to the women’s workforce in the country. However, this source of income is only viewed as an addition to the household income. Therefore, while the domestic workers’ sector has a significant role in the empowerment and emancipation of women both inside and outside the household, this is neither permanent nor does not necessarily translate into upward mobility of the women. In most cases, most of the hope is hinged on the offspring to attain quality education and climb the social ladder. While there are numerous initiatives by the state, there still remains a significant gap in terms of a social support system that needs to be provided.

                                                               Works Cited

CONVENTION C189 – DOMESTIC WORKERS CONVENTION, 2011 (NO. 189) 2011. Convention C189 – Domestic Workers Convention, 2011 (No. 189). [online]

Available at:


[Accessed 1 August 2022].


National Policy on Domestic Workers

Government of India, M., 2019. National Policy on Domestic Workers. [online]

Available at: <>

[Accessed 1 August 2022].

The Plight of Domestic Workers in India

Ghosh, J., 2013. The Plight of Domestic Workers in India. [online] Available at:


[Accessed 1 August 2022].



Beri, Y., 2020. A STUDY ON FEMALE DOMESTIC WORKERS IN INDIA. [online] Available at: <>

[Accessed 1 August 2022].

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