ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

Kamala SankaranSubscribe to Kamala Sankaran

Domestic Work, Unpaid Work and Wage Rates

A comprehensive law for domestic workers in India covering all aspects of their working conditions is yet to come. However, the debate on legislative protection for domestic workers has focused unduly on labour laws and wage rates, ignoring the valuation of unpaid care and domestic labour performed by women in the household. The rights of women in matrimonial property are also overlooked. A consequence of such a lack of recognition of unpaid labour is the effect it has on determination of wage rates for domestic work.

Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work: India and the ILO

The manner in which rights at work have been identified and articulated within both the International Labour Organisation and India since the founding of the agency in 1919, bears a close similarity. Despite what its mandate would suggest, the ilo (like India) has chosen to treat only certain selected rights as "fundamental" at the expense of issues such as those relating to conditions of work, wages and social security, which are equally constitutive of what it terms "decent work". This paper argues that recent developments within the ilo and India indicate the need for adopting a broader and more inclusive approach to ensuring decent work.

NREGA Wages: Ensuring Decent Work

While for several decades now there has been an unresolved debate about the feasibility of having a national minimum wage, the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act with its provision for a country-wide wage rate has placed the possibility to do so squarely on the agenda. The NREGA wage rate must logically be a need-based national minimum wage under the Minimum Wages Act. Declaring a need-based minimum wage rate under NREGA which is linked to the schedule of rates allows for sufficient flexibility to account for regional/geographical variation.
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