Budget 2024: Social security to millions of domestic workers? Minimum wage, pension under consideration – Times of India

Budget 2024: Ahead of the upcoming general elections in April-May, the government is contemplating rolling out social security benefits to millions of domestic workers. This move signifies a potential step towards the realization of universal welfare payments as outlined in the Social Security Code of 2020, which is yet to be implemented.
Under consideration are various benefits such as minimum wage, pension, medical insurance, maternity benefits, and provident fund for domestic workers.A senior government official told ET that various options are being explored, but a final decision will be made once the government has an accurate count of domestic workers in India.
The Social Security Code categorizes domestic staff as “wage workers,” thereby entitling them to wage-related benefits once the code is put into effect.
It is important to note that the code incorporates existing social security laws and schemes, including the Employees’ Provident Funds and Miscellaneous Provisions (EPF & MP) Act, Employees State Insurance (ESIC) Act, and the Unorganised Workers’ Social Security Act. Consequently, social security schemes provided under these acts will continue to be available under the code once it is implemented.

However, it is worth mentioning that not all states have framed rules under the four labor codes drafted by the Central government in 2019-20. The Social Security Code is one of these four codes. To ensure a smooth rollout of the labor codes, the Central government aims to have all states on board.
The proposed scheme will outline the benefits, contribution rates, and the distribution of shares among beneficiaries, employers, and the government. The Ministry of Labor and Employment’s Labor Bureau has conducted a comprehensive survey of domestic workers nationwide, which is currently being finalized. The government will analyze the data and work profiles to ascertain the cost implications and develop the framework for the proposed social security benefits.
The survey findings will also shed light on various socio-economic aspects of domestic workers, including household size, social groups, and economic activities.
e-Shram portal
The government has established the Aadhaar-seeded e-Shram portal, which serves as a comprehensive database for unorganized workers, including domestic employees. Since its launch in 2021, over 292 million unorganized workers have been registered on the e-Shram portal as of December 15, 2023.

According to the National Domestic Workers’ Movement, the official estimate of domestic workers stands at 4.2 million. However, experts suggest that the actual number could be over 50 million, with 75% of them being women.
Labour economist KR Shyam Sundar highlighted potential complications in including domestic workers under the code. He stated that the code lacks a clear definition of domestic workers, unlike building workers and platform workers who are clearly defined for the purpose of social security benefits.

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