All-India Survey on Domestic Workers


    In News 

    • Recently, the first-ever All-India Survey on Domestic Workers was flagged off by the Ministry of Labour & Employment.

    Objectives and needs of the survey 

    • As per the latest data on the e-Shram portal, around 8.8 per cent of registered 8.56 crore informal sector workers fall in the Domestic Workers category.
      • DWs are the third-largest category of workers after agriculture and construction.
    • Domestic workers are a significant part of the total informal sector employment, there was a lack of data on the employment conditions.
    • This evidence-based study will help the government in policy-making for this segment of workers.

    About All-India Survey on Domestic Workers

    • The survey is being carried out by the Labour Bureau.
    • It is aimed at estimating the proportion of domestic workers at the national level and in the States, the proportion of domestic workers who live-in/live-out, engaged in informal employment and migrant/non-migrant, wages of such workers, and other socio-economic factors.
    • The survey would also include details of the number of households with live-in/live-out domestic workers and the average number of workers engaged by various kinds of households.
    • The questionnaire would include details about the size of the household, religion, social group, monthly consumption expenditure and the nature of the dwelling unit. 
      • Information about the domestic workers, including their age, social group, migrant status, duration of work and type of remuneration, would be collected as well. 

    About Unorganised sector

    • It is characterised by small and scattered units which are largely outside the control of the government. There are rules and regulations but these are not followed. Jobs here are low-paid and often not regular. 
    • There is no provision for overtime, paid leave, holidays, leave due to sickness etc. Employment is not secure. 
    • People can be asked to leave without any reason. 
    • This sector includes a large number of people who are employed on their own doing small jobs such as selling on the street or doing repair work.
      • Similarly, farmers work on their own and hire labourers as and when they require

    Unorganised sector in India 

    • Around 80% of India’s labour force is employed in the informal sector and the remaining 20% in the formal sector. 
      • Of the 80% informal sector workforce, half work in agriculture and the remaining in non-agricultural sectors. 

    Challenges /Issues

    • Lack of Social security benefits: Formal workers work in the public and private organised sectors and have adequate social security benefits. 
      • But informal sector workers lack these benefits, making them very vulnerable to economic and political shocks.
    • Susceptibility to economic shocks: The casual workers among the informal workers are most susceptible to economic shocks as most of them do unskilled, low-paid occupational jobs
      • A significantly high proportion of these workers belong to the marginalised groups and are migrant labourers.
      • The problems in the informal sector can be costly as it can lead to job and wage losses, higher inflation and even risk the livelihood of migrant workers. 
    • Structural disadvantage: The structural disadvantage in terms of literacy and skills make them more prone to exploitation. 
      • The discrimination in the urban informal labour market against these people leaves them with no choice but to accept the offered wage.
    • Government failure: There is a government failure to reduce wage inequality and ensure a bare minimum wage to a large chunk of the urban informal workers during normal times. 
      • Therefore, the majority of urban informal workers remain highly vulnerable and live in precarious conditions even during normal times. 
      • The existing government programmes cannot provide gainful employment opportunities to the migrants at their native places. 
    • Implications of Lockdown: Informal sector workers suffered far more from the national lockdown in 2020 than their formal sector counterparts.
      •  With an inadequate safety net, there were painful accounts of displaced informal workers trying to get back to their rural homes.

    Government’s Initiatives 

    • Unorganised Workers’ Social Security Act, 2008: The Act empowers the Central Government to provide Social Security benefits to unorganised sector workers by formulating suitable welfare schemes on matters relating to (i) life and disability cover, (ii) health and maternity benefits, (iii) old age protection and (iv) any other benefit as may be determined by the Central Government. 
    • Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Jyoti Yojana (PMJJBY) and Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojana (PMSBY):  Life and disability cover is provided through Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Jyoti Yojana (PMJJBY) and Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojana (PMSBY)
    • Pradhan Mantri Shram Yogi Maan-DhanYojana (PM-SYM) and National Pension Scheme for Traders, Shopkeeper and Self-Employed Persons (NPS- Traders).
      • The schemes launched for old age protection to unorganised sector workers including traders, shopkeepers and self-employed persons, 
      • Under the schemes, beneficiaries are entitled to receive a minimum monthly assured pension of Rs.3000/- after attaining the age of 60 years.
      • Both the schemes are being implemented in all the States/UTs of India.  
    • Aam Admi Bima Yojana (AABY): It is a Government of India Social Security Scheme administered through Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC).
    • MGNREGA 
      • It is a poverty alleviation programme of the Government of India, which provides the legal Right to Work in exchange for money to the citizens of the country.
      • It aims to enhance livelihood security in rural areas by providing at least 100 days of guaranteed wage employment in a financial year to every household whose adult members volunteer to do unskilled manual work.
    • Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana / Package 
      • In 2020, the Government of India had announced the “Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana” (PM-GKAY) for all beneficiaries covered under the National Food Security Act, 2013 (NFSA).
      • It is a comprehensive relief package of Rs 1.70 Lakh Crore Yojana for the poor to help them fight the battle against the CoronaVirus. 
      • It aims to reach out to the poorest of the poor, with food and money in hand, so that they do not face difficulties in buying essential supplies and meeting essential needs.
    • A draft National Policy on domestic workers is under consideration by the Central Government. The salient features are as under:-
      • Inclusion of Domestic Workers in the existing legislation.
      • Domestic workers will have the right to register as workers. Such registration will facilitate their access to rights & benefits accruing to them as 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 have access to courts, tribunals, etc.
      • Establishment of a mechanism for regulation of concerned placement agencies

    Conclusion and Way Forward 

    • There is a need to give protection to informal sector workers via social welfare schemes so that the disruption they are facing does not lead to a permanent fall in demand
    • Agriculture cannot absorb more people. It is already overcrowded. Engaging returning migrants in building new agri-value chains has some potential to create productive employment and protect livelihoods.
    • In the meantime, if the government can scale up its “one nation, one ration card” scheme, and make subsidised grains available at places of work in cities and industrial towns, migrants can hopefully hold on for some time before taking a call on moving back to their native places. 
    • Government godowns are overflowing with excess grain stocks, and it may be useful to distribute at least a part of this to benefit migrant workers rather than incur high costs of maintaining these stocks. 
    • Along with this, some financial assistance under the Garib Kalyan Yojana can also be extended to migrants to help them remain in the cities of their work

    Source: TH