Employing Domestic Help in India

Information on finding and hiring domestic workers in India…

Domestic help is the norm among the middle and upper classes in India. Locals and foreigners hire staff to help with household tasks such as cleaning, cooking, laundry, ironing, gardening and childcare. Many people also employ drivers and security guards.

Domestic workers are often found by word of mouth. The best way in which to find staff is to tell neighbours that you are looking for domestic help. They will ask their own staff to recommend someone they know. People may also approach you offering their services.

There are agencies that place domestic staff for a fee. This practice is not common, however, and most people prefer to find staff through personal contacts.

Conditions and Terms of Employment

There are no laws governing who can employ a domestic worker. Domestic workers are part of the informal economy, as they are unlikely to earn the minimum taxable annual income of Rs200,000.

There are currently no laws governing the employment of domestic workers. Most full-time domestic workers generally work six days a week, with Sundays off. A draft bill went before the government in mid-2012. It proposes to set a minimum wage, working hours, paid leave and maternity leave for domestic workers.

  • For more information on the draft bill: Click here

In the meantime, the best way in which to determine a domestic worker’s salary is to ask neighbours what the going rate is. Some apartment blocks and housing compounds have pre-agreed rates for domestic staff. Salaries are usually paid monthly. It is customary to give one month’s salary as a bonus at Diwali, Ramadan or Christmas, depending on the domestic worker’s religion.

Since workers in the informal economy are not covered by social security, their employers often offer them additional benefits once they have been in their service for at least a year. Some employers offer to open savings accounts on behalf of their domestic workers or pay for private health insurance or their children’s school fees. It is also common for domestic workers to request loans from their employer, for which a repayment schedule will usually be agreed.

Employment of Foreign Domestic Workers

The provisions for the employment of foreigners in India require a minimum annual salary of US$25,000. For this reason, it is not usually feasible for most people to employ foreign domestic workers.