Domestic workers are part of our daily lives. Yet they continue to be deprived of basic rights like paid leaves, timely increments, and affordable housing scheme. As employers, we must tread that extra mile to guide them towards empowerment, financial stability, and better living. To begin with, knowing a little about their lives helps.
What are the total earnings of the family? How much of it is disposable income? Are there debt loads? Most domestic workers will have debts to pay back. There may even be alcoholism or drug abuse in the family to deal with. With knowledge of all these facts, here are some things you can suggest for empowering your worker.
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Insist on opening a Bank Account: Thanks to the multiple initiatives of the Government for the financial inclusion of lower-income groups, majority of families now have at least one bank account to avail of subsidies like LPG. If your domestic help doesn’t have an account, assist her to open one. Educate her about using debit cards and explain the benefits of having a checkbook. Something as basic as a Jan Dhan Account will suit best. They can use it as a prerequisite for affordable home loans. The Jan Dhan Account also provides accidental insurance worth ₹1 lakh at no extra cost, there is also a life insurance cover worth ₹30,000. Low-cost pension and accident insurance schemes are also available.
Introduce your Help to Affordable Housing Schemes: If your help lives in a rented home, she may be seeking a permanent residence either in the city or her native. Affordable home scheme like the Pradhan Mantri Avas Yojana are available for assisting workers from lower income groups. The subsidized loan amount from this scheme can be used for either building a new home or reconstructing an old one. You can educate her and help her apply. Alternatively, housing finance companies also provide affordable home loan at low interest rates for those who need them. Find the good ones and help her with the documentation and processing.
Suggest a Health Insurance Cover: The Covid pandemic has been a living lesson of how important healthcare is. Your house help needs proper healthcare just as much as you do. Sadly, most of them are deprived of basic treatments, owing to lack of funds. Insurance will empower them with the assurance of health and safety. Finding a low-cost health insurance plan may however be a tough task. There are state government backed low-cost insurance plans for those below the poverty line and also for lower-income groups. You need to do a bit of research before coming up with a suitable option.
No empowerment is possible without education. If there are children of school-going age in the family, encourage them to pursue formal education. If the family has managed to secure a roof over their heads, make sure they choose a location with a school nearby. Urge your help to join night school if possible. If a family member is looking for higher education, check if they are eligible for government scholarships on the Vidyalakshmi Portal or the National Scholarship Portal.