Coronavirus update: When can your domestic help return to work? RWAs still in the dark

Babita Rai, a 35-year-old domestic help from Zamrudpur in south Delhi, has been without work for over 40 days now. With her depleted savings and an additional loan of Rs20,000 coming to an end, Babita and her husband are uncertain about their future even as the country readies to get some relaxation from the ongoing lockdown.

The Ministry of Home Affairs issued new guidelines on Friday to ease some restrictions on essential and non-essential services during the third phase of the lockdown, which starts from Monday. While the ministry asked the resident welfare associations (RWAs) to take a call about allowing the movement of outsiders, several house helps were either told to not come or are not aware of the RWAs’ decisions.

“No one has asked me to come back for work. I am without any work for over 40 days now. I did call them to check if we can resume our work, while most denied one family, who are putting up on rent, said the owners of the house are not allowing them,” Rai told PTI.

Until March 24, Babita had been working in three houses in Greater Kailash, earning anything between Rs6-10,000 a month. Another worker, Rekha from Vasundhara, Ghaziabad, is afraid to step out fearing police may reprimand her and has not heard of any RWA decision about it.

“There is no work and whatever money I had saved is almost gone. I do not know if societies may allow us to work from tomorrow. I do not know how we will survive if we do not go back to work,” she said.

Rekha had returned to Ghaziabad from her daughter’s wedding in Bihar just in time before the lockdown restricted inter-state movement.

Not just domestic helps, but home-makers are in the dark as they await to hear from RWA secretaries.

“We were told there will be an RWA meeting today about allowing maids to come in, but we have not heard anything so far. While it would be of great help if they are allowed, we will still have to be careful,” said Aniket Sharma, a resident of a gated society in Ghaziabad.

The movement curb has hit the lower-income groups hard as another help Pinky from Noida sector 39 rued the lockdown has rendered her jobless and her family hungry. “My employers had told me they would call when they wanted me to come to work, I am yet to hear from anyone. Running the household has become extremely difficult. We are eating one meal a day as I have not got my salary for the last two months,” Pinky said.

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