Senate body approves ‘Islamabad Capital Territory Domestic Workers Bill, 2021’

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Regulating employment of domestic workers

City Reporter

Senate Standing Committee on Human Rights on Tuesday unanimously approved the “Islamabad Capital Territory Domestic Workers Bill, 2021” with substantive amendments.

The Bill will provide legal cover for regulating the employment of domestic workers in Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) and protecting their rights.

It also envisages for improving the working conditions and terms of employment of domestic workers.

The proposed legislation contains provisions for their social protection and welfare, including working hours, minimum wages, the entitlement of leaves, safety and medical care etc.

The Committee held its meeting in parliament house while Senator Walid Iqbal was on chair. The “Islamabad Capital Territory Domestic Workers Bill, 2021” was discussed for the 2nd consecutive day and passed.

The minimum age of employment was amended from “sixteen” to “eighteen” years in all the sections of the bill, hence a bar of 18 years as the minimum age for engaging into domestic employment.

During the clause by clause consideration of the Bill, the Committee pointed out some serious lacunas with regards to the working hours of a domestic worker, compensation amount for extra work and complaint/redressal mechanism.

A detailed discussion on the appellant authorities in terms of appeals and disputes of the employers and the workers was taken under considerations. The Committee decided to provide a comprehensive yet simple mechanism for filing complaints under the proposed law and providing relief.

A Committee comprising of three Members including a female will be notified to receive complaints and appeals against the order of the Committee can be filed with the Ombudsperson.

Regarding the Penalties for contravening the provisions of the Domestic workers Bill it was observed that the penalty of ten thousand rupees is a meagre amount and shall be raised up to hundred thousand rupees.

Clause 36, of the bill, was amended to provide that the Rules under the law shall be made by the Ministry within a period of six months as it was observed that the absence for Rules for long greatly hinders implementation of laws.

Earlier in the meeting, the committee members lamented the fact that the bill went unread by the Ministry of Law and Justice as well as the Human Rights Ministry, unfortunately a senior panel of 5 members from both the ministries was present with very little knowledge on the Bill.

The Chairman pointed out glaring mistakes in terms of grammar, punctuation, spellings, capital letters and articles. “Meticulous attention is required.

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