Domestic workers

HC asked a panel to verify the situation of home nurses and domestic workers in Delhi

New Delhi, July 2 (IANS): A plea has been filed in the Delhi High Court asking the Center to consider setting up a Welfare Board for home nurses and domestic workers and a committee to look into their situation in the nation’s capital.

The Public Interest Litigation (PIL) Brief Motion, brought by an NGO through lawyers Robin Raju, Deepa Joseph and Blessan Mathews, sought to highlight the pathos of home care nurses and domestic workers, saying the pandemic has brought their concerns to the fore.

The petitioner, Distress Management Collective, has encountered many grievances from these workers who have faced exploitation from both the placement agency and the employer, the plea states.

Home care nurses and domestic workers have had to put their lives at risk and ignore the welfare of their own families to tend to the needs of their employers around the clock, he said, adding that it would not be an exaggeration to say that the lives of many elders have been saved from the deadly Covid virus thanks to the care and protection rendered by this unrecognized group.

It is imperative to note that home nurses, who are mostly women, often come from poor and uneducated backgrounds and the agencies that hire them take advantage of this fact. The situation for domestic workers is no different either, he said.

The petitioner says that it has been made clear by the victims of exploitation that the recruitment agencies for home nurses take a commission from their hard-earned monthly salary every month. This practice of deducting a share of salary each month should be discouraged and stopped, the plea argued.

In addition, home nurses are often required to work non-stop. Many are hired on the condition that they have to care for a bedridden patient 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and this harsh condition is accepted by compulsion.

Home nurses due to the conditions imposed on them have to leave their home and live with the patient. It is for this reason that the need to ensure the safety of a home nurse is gaining in relevance. A home nurse works in constant fear thinking that if anything untoward happened to the patient she is caring for, she would be the first to be singled out by the patient’s family members, he said .

He also said that in the recent past, the organization has faced a number of complaints, including related to non-payment of unpaid salaries, and in most cases, the relevant recruitment agencies drop them.