4 Jan :With the Maharashtra govt passing the Maharashtra Domestic Workers Welfare Board Act 2008, about 10 lakh housemaids in the state from now will get weekly offs, bonus, Diwali gifts and yearly increments from their employees.
"Considering the continuous demand from representatives of the domestic workers engaged in household work, the Government passed the Bill last month during winter session," Minister for Labour Nawab Malik said.
Domestic workers in the state will get facilities like health or accidental insurance, money for educating children, pension or provident fund, he said.
Appreciating the Government’s decision, Rupa Kulkarni, president of Vidarbha Gharelu Kamgar Sanghatana, and leader of domestic workers movement in Maharashtra, said the Act will bring honour to the profession.
"People will start considering household work as a profession and these poor women involved in the work will get some honour and monetary benefits," Kulkarni, whose organisation has over 50,000 members, said.
Altogether 32 types of works come under the definition of domestic work, including sweeping, cleaning utensils, washing clothes, cooking etc.
The workers would get financial assistance, maternity benefits and funeral expenses from the Board. Every worker would have to be registered with a Board which will also handle their wages, she said.
The Welfare Board would have a single window system to guide all welfare schemes for the workers, she said.
"This will make workers aware about welfare schemes of the Central and State Government," she said.
Flaws in the legislation need to be cleared by the Board, she said. "It says workers in the age group of 18 to 60 should be registered with the Board but there are thousands of women over 60 who work in houses," she said.
Another issue is that of the pension or provident fund. The legislation says these benefits would be given to the worker after they are 65.
"These hard working people would get the pension at 65, when all ordinary people get pension at 60," she said.
The boards should not be restricted to city or district level but should be established at tehsil levels also, Kulkarni said.
The Unorganised Sector Workers’ Social Security Bill 2007 passed by Rajya Sabha would help these domestic workers get financial and other kind of help, Malik said.
The legislation has been sent to the Governor for his final approval, Malik said.
The Boards at various levels will become functional in the state after budgetary provision is made, the minister said.