Kerala recognises domestic workers, home nurses as ‘workers’ with legal immunity

The Government of Kerala has drafted the Domestic Workers (Regulation and Welfare) Act, which will provide home nurses and domestic workers in Kerala much-needed job security, minimum wage and pension.

By drafting this Bill, Kerala becomes the first Indian state to attempt to recognise domestic helps as workers, providing them legal immunity. The Bill will soon be tabled at the Kerala Assembly’s session.

These workers, who are usually hired through third parties or agencies, will now receive minimum wages, fair treatment and payment as per law, thanks to the Bill. Most such domestic workers and home nurses are women, who will now receive pension after the age of 65.

Additionally, the Bill will ensure that home nurses and domestic workers receive benefits such as fair wages, health benefits, leaves and allowances.

A new government board is in the process of being set up for the same. All agencies will now have to register with this board, and any non-compliance will invite a penalty of Rs 10,000 or even a year’s imprisonment or both.

Financial assistance will also be provided to workers in case of medical emergencies, accidents or marriage of daughter, in addition to facilitating housing or education loans.

The State already has welfare boards to look after the interests of many workers from the unorganised as well as organised sectors, including farmers and lottery sellers.