Centre launches first-ever survey of domestic help to shape employment policy
Union labour minister Bhupender Yadav on Monday rolled out the country’s first survey of domestic workers, the latest of a set of five national jobs enumeration campaigns aimed at collecting data on the country’s vast informal workforce that will, in turn, feed a forthcoming national employment policy in Asia’s third-largest economy.
Domestic workers are believed to be at least 4 million strong, according to a 2017 International Labour Organization study, but there is little official information on their actual number; and little is known about their work conditions and average pay.
The absence of such data leaves them out of any formal policy governing the country’s informal workers, who make up a majority of the total workforce. India lacks updated data on economy-wide number of workers in the informal sector, but estimates suggest their numbers to be between 350-400 million.
The survey is designed to fill this gap and offer “time-series data on domestic workers”, the minister said.
The survey for domestic workers is among five national jobs surveys that will be conducted periodically and provide crucial data for an upcoming national employment policy being planned by the Narendra Modi government, an official said, requesting anonymity.
In September, the government released the results of the first All-India Quarterly Establishment-based Employment Survey (AQEES) for the April-June quarter.
The other four surveys are the All-India Survey of Migrant Workers, All-India Survey of Domestic Workers (launched Monday), All-India Survey of Employment Generated by Professionals and All-India Survey of Employment Generated in the Transport Sector.
The survey launched Monday will provide, for the first time, a headcount of domestic workers and their employers through a nationwide household-based survey.
According to the manual of the survey, specific features of domestic work, such as living conditions and employment relationships, will be extensively covered; these are usually not covered in the traditional labour force surveys.
“The numbers will improve the availability of official data on DW (domestic workers) and would provide a basis for meaningful social dialogue,” the manual stated.
Parameters the survey aim to capture the number and proportion of household workers by major states, with separate rural and urban break-ups, their percentage distribution, households that employ them and socio-demographic characteristics.
The labour bureau’s AQEES in September showed a 29% increase in employment in nine sectors during the peak Covid-19 months of April-June over a base of 2013-14. The survey showed a jump in jobs in sectors such as IT, business process outsourcing and manufacturing.
India lacks official short-term, high-frequency jobs data and the AQEES is meant to fill the critical gap. Economists usually depend on the Periodic Labour Force Survey, a government jobs survey, or data from the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE), a private data firm.