Govt told to ensure enforcement of domestic workers act

Updated February 26, 2019

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LHC says a day should be notified as Domestic Workers Day to share sympathies with domestic labour. — AFP
LHC says a day should be notified as Domestic Workers Day to share sympathies with domestic labour. — AFP

LAHORE: The Lahore High Court has directed the provincial government to ensure enforcement of the Punjab Domestic Workers Act 2019 and also suggested it that a day in the year may be notified as a “Domestic Workers Day” along with the “Labour Day” to share sympathies with the domestic workers.

“Non-government organisations (NGOs) should also come forward to play their due role in creating awareness among the general public regarding rights of domestic workers. A comprehensive social and electronic media campaign be launched by the government for creating awareness among people regarding plight of domestic workers and aforesaid new enactment,” Justice Jawad Hassan remarked in a detailed verdict issued on a petition demanding rights for the domestic workers.

The judge also directed the provincial government to frame rules for effective implementation of the Act by reflecting it in the schedule 2 of the Punjab Government Rules of Business 2001, and to make all rules as prescribed under Section 2(q) read with Section 38 of the Act of 2019 to enable the departments concerned to apply the law in letter and spirit.

The judge further ordered the government to establish without any delay the authority/governing body as envisaged in the Act and notify all measures to make the Act of 2019 functional as it was necessary to protect the right of domestic workers, to regulate their terms of employment and working conditions of service, to provide them social protection and ensure their welfare.

A citizen, Subay Khan, had filed the petition through Advocate Sheraz Zaka for the enforcement of fundamental rights of domestic workers with a direction to the government to initiate a proper legislation for them.

The Domestic Workers Act, which is said to be the first of its kind in the country, carries a ban on children below the age of 15 years to work as domestic workers. The new law says no child under the age of 15 years shall be allowed to work in household in any capacity and domestic workers shall not be employed under the bonded labour system.

Any employer if fails to comply with the provisions of the Act or abuse a worker shall, on conviction, be punishable with fine or imprisonment for a term, which may extend to one month if he/she engaged a child below the age of 12 years and in case of a child under 15 years by fine which may extend to Rs50,000 but shall not be less than Rs10,000.

He said every employment or appointment of a domestic worker shall be subject to issuance of a letter of employment in a prescribed “Form” showing terms and conditions of employment, including the nature of work and amount of wages etc.

As per the law, domestic workers’ shifts will be limited to eight hours, whereas special courts and committees will be formed to resolve their problems.

Published in Dawn, February 26th, 2019