Paying Cinderella

Its Pay Time — Cinderella

All my commitments and targets are not really met, simply because a large chunk of my time goes in playing spider solitaire and I play solitaire whenever I have to get back into a working frame of mind. Housework I realized did eat into a chunk of my time.

of course I did reorganize my work schedule to optimize my efficiency but new challenges like travelling, in-laws moving in I was getting overwhelmed and having temper tantrums, fuelled by menopausal mood swings it was time to call the cavalry. Or rather hire help.

Growing up in feudal environment I never really I just took things and the domestic help for granted, as I did when I set up my own house. but the last 5yrs I have been without domestic help, (the family accused me of not being able to retain help), never mind I had one before, when my daughters were young it was full time help, and then part time.

Yet when people did show up for the job, I was clueless how to handle it, I actually sat down to figure out what was the core issue here, it was I did not want to someone to do my work, ironically on one hand I cribbed that my vagina did not come with a I’ll do the housework clause yet   I was reluctant to hire a maid.

The first step was for me to figure out what were my priorities I realized I wanted to have a house that was running, and lets me honest my command being obeyed I did not want to relegate command.

Once the decision to hire help was taken the next step was finding one, the best possible way to do it, is to seek help from our community and people we know. They are the most reliable way of finding good help. The people who introduce become referrals,  usually a person working in a friends house is looking for a job and that is how most people connect. We left the informal “wanted info” with the watchman, the milkman the fish and vegetable vendor.

We also looked up reliable placement agencies based on the recommendations online, while www.quikr.com did get back to us with their referrals quickly the vendors they referred to us did not get back.

When the chief of security got the person, he told us that she was Nepal and her background check and police verification was done, I was quite taken aback for never in my 50yrs of life have I heard of a background check done for domestic help since most of them came by referral through mutual friends or connects.  But now it is mandatory to have this check done.

Most of them asked me what are the jobs to be done, again I was a little agitated, then I realized that unless I told her what I expected she would not know. Before I spoke to the maid I had to create my check list

  • What are the working hours, day off etc.
  • What are the jobs that I delegate to her.
  • How do I want it executed.
  • What are the rules of the house regarding phone
  • What about food and tea.

Like I mentioned before in the feudal system we did not worry, it was assumed that food was taken care by the employer, sometimes the help took home left over too. so were medical expenses either the employer paid it outright or if it is was too large then it was an interest free loan. They were part of the family, I remember we got two of the girls working in our house educated, one learnt tailoring and “Delhi cooking” so she has a “Delhi durbar” a small wayside restaurant at a village where lot of truckers travel.  The other did her graduation is a pharmacists assistant. Another maid we had, was an impoverished semi-educated lady, so my parents got her daughter married and as per the Indian custom took care of her entire first delivary. Actually last month her daughter built a house and my mother sent in the gifts as if it were for her own daughter.

This kind of bonding may no longer be there, but yes we do need to give them respect and treat them the way we would like to be treated. When my last help quit I was quite upset because there was a bit of flare up with the other house she worked, then I realized I was so caught up with my illness that I had failed to recognize that the maid was diagnosed grade one cancer and had to go for therapy the other lady did recognize and support her. We need to be involved a little bit in their lives too.

Sometimes there might be work beyond the designated time, it should be adequately compensated for, how you do it is between the two of you, but it has to be acknowledged and dealt with.

Working with Mr. Roland Martins in the consumer awareness and women’s forum I was aware though domestic help is unorganized sector and it is rather not very practical to cover them, there are certain guidelines to be followed.  For example we never really discussed the medical expenses. I still don’t intend to.

Anyway, coming to the domestic workers in India, the Domestic Worker act was introduced in 2008 – it deals with registration, social security and welfare. This is applicable to both men and women, though as the presence of women is larger it becomes more significant to women. The state government governs its implementation as it is subjected to the state legislation.

Applicability:

  • Applicable to whole of India except the state of Jammu and Kashmir.
  • Not applicable to domestic workers who have immigrated for employment to any other country.
  • Employment of child is prohibited under any law for the time being in force as a domestic worker or for any such incidental or ancillary work.
  • Implementing authority under the act will be Central Advisory Committee, State Advisory Committee And District Board.

As per the act any person older than 18yrs, but less than 60yrs, and is engaged in any domestic work for not less than 90 days, in the preceding 12 months can be registered as a domestic worker under Section 16.

Any domestic worker registered under the Act who lives in the premises where workplace is situated is entitled to 10hrs of rest between the ending and recommencing of work. Also workers living in the house are entitled to 15 days paid leave annually. Section 22—Working Hours And Leave With Wages.

All registered domestic workers should be paid minimum wages as per the minimum wages act 1948

The Act has specific safety and Penalty provision (Section 23) in cases where any person knowingly sends, directs or takes any girl or woman domestic worker to any place for immoral purpose or a place where she is likely to be morally corrupted or in manner sexually exploited. Such a person can be subjected to imprisonment for a period of 6 months which may extend up to 7yrears, and fine up to 50,000 Rs. month or both

Any service provider who contravenes the provision of the act can be punished by 3 months imprisonment  or/and 2000/Rs. fine.  Obstructing the inspection by an authorized person or refusing co-operate faces the same penalty.

Anyone knowing abetting trafficking of domestic workers, faces a penalty of 3 -7 yrs imprisonment and/or Rs.2000/- as fine.

States like Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Karnataka, Rajasthan and Jharkhand have included domestic workers in the schedule employment with hourly, daily, monthly wages fixed by the states. For example Andhra has a minimum per hour wage as Rs.12.5/hours, Rs.107/day or Rs.2800/month.

With the passing of the Domestic Workers Act 2008, domestic workers are slated to receive pension, maternity benefits and paid leave that is a weekly off.  Workers living on premises are entitled to 15 days paid leave annually, and 15days otherwise throughout the year. Constituting a district board has been proposed to ensure the proper implementation of the act.

http://blog.localcircles.com/how-to-hire-and-retain-household-help/

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