Laws sans implementation

Proposed law binds all employers to refer to children hired as ‘domestic workers’ instead of servant

Editorial/editorial December 14, 2018

The Punjab government has come out with another piece of legislation to address the issue of child labour in the province. The Punjab law and parliamentary affairs minister tabled the Punjab Domestic Workers Act, 2018 in the provincial assembly on Wednesday. This proposed law specifically deals with the rights and privileges of children hired or engaged for domestic service. It also spells out obligations or duties of the employer. The Speaker of the assembly has, however, referred the proposed law to the relevant committee seeking its input on the draft law within 15 days.

If and when passed by the assembly, the proposed law is going to be an addition to a long list of enactments dealing with the issue and problem of child labour and already on the statute book. All the four provinces have enacted a number of laws on the issues related to children. Separately, laws relating to factories, mines, shops and commercial establishments as well as transport workers have specific provisions dealing with children’s employment and placing restrictions on age limit of children hired for the job in different categories of employment.

However, the proposed Punjab law binds all employers to refer to children so hired as ‘domestic worker’ instead of servant. It also binds the employer to ensure respectable working conditions, appropriate measures for occupational safety and health of domestic worker, payable remuneration, leave, festival holidays, medical assistance, disablement pension, etc. In case of female workers, the law proposes maternity benefits, including maternity leave.

But the question arises here is: have these laws and rules brought about any change in the situation prevailing in all four provinces? The answer is in the negative. The real problem lies in the implementation of these laws where provincial and federal governments seem to be lacking in will and intent.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 14th, 2018.

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