ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Minimum Wages for Domestic Work

Mirroring Devalued Housework

Apart from labour market issues that govern legislative interventions, a critical factor in understanding the responses of the state to the issues domestic workers face is the social understanding of household work. Minimum wages for domestic workers in the few states where it is mandated are among the lowest in the informal sector, reflecting the undervaluation of housework even when it enters the market. Better statutory minimum wages for domestic workers would not only help protect their rights, but could also shake the social and political foundations of household work, leading to a new valuation of it.

This paper is drawn from the study “Minimum Wage Setting Practices in Domestic Work: An Inter-state Analysis” commissioned by the International Labour Organisation, New Delhi Office. The author acknowledges the ILO’s support for this study and is thankful to its team for valuable comments on the report. The author also thanks Mary E John and Babu P Remesh for suggestions.

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