We rely a lot on our househelps – specifically in a country like ours. And most times, it skips our mind that they’re people too and we have no right to not treat them with dignity. We constantly expect things from them, that we wouldn’t accept at our own workplace. Hypocrisy much?
From casteist behavior to denying basic workers’ rights – our treatment towards them remains uncalled for. Even when we do offer them basic rights, we boast about it as if we did a favor – which says a lot about us as a society.
Here are some things that we expect from our jobs but do not intend to offer our househelps:
1. Work-Life balance
We all expect a work-life balance when it comes to our jobs, but we’re hardly concerned about offering a balance to domestic help, who already exert a lot. Because, we’ve a life but we forget that others do too.
2. Job safety
When we plan a future, it also revolves around employment and having a source of income. Similarly, people who work at our homes – chores like cleaning or washing, also depend a lot on the job. But, we constantly come across incidents where people fire househelps for petty reasons like taking an extra sick leave or asking for a riase. We assert power, thinking that they cannot take a stand.
3. Weekly off
We don’t even consider checking work mails or texts on holidays – which is appropriate. But, when it comes to people who work for us at our homes, we almost force them to come on Sundays and even festivals. Some of us, who do offer non-working weekends do it as if we’re making a gesture. Spoiler alert: It’s not a gesture or a big deal, it’s a basic human need.
4. Incentives and a deserving salary
Salary is about money, because it matters. But, it’s also about acknowledging and appreciating someone’s work by giving them what they deserve. And it’s no news that most househelps are underpaid and wages are not revised on a regular basis – as they should.
5. To be respected
No matter where or who we work for, we all need and deserve to be respected for our work and as individuals. When it comes to househelps, we do not always treat them with respect – separating their dishes or being rude to them, are just some of the ways. And well, it’s a big deal if they continue to work for us.
6. A non-toxic work environment
Who would voluntarily want to be surrounded by people who’re toxic? While it is important to stand up against toxic behaviour, it’s equally important that we do not end up being that for someone else. Setting unrealistic goals, lack of trust or expecting them to work when they’re unwell are just some ways in which we end up being toxic towards our househelps. And mostly, it goes unnoticed.
7. Menstrual leave
While most workplaces do not offer menstrual leave, we still hope to reach the goal someday. But, we can still offer our househelps something that we consider a necessity ourselves – specifically when menstrual hygiene and education is a luxury in our country.
8. Healthy sanitary conditions
We all expect clean and a healthy space at our workplace – specifically when it comes to washrooms. But, it’s 2022 and we still frown upon domestic workers using the same washrooms as we do. We’re okay with them cleaning things for us, but cannot move-on from the casteist behaviour. It’s like we’ve normalized hypocrisy.
9. Practical and fixed working hours
We all like to leave our offices on or before time and even expect to not get any work after office hours – which is healthy. While, when it comes to the people who work for us, we expect them to be present, based on our convenience. Additionally, we pile up work as and when we want.
10. Treat them as humans
During the pandemic when everything stopped, most of us couldn’t wait to get our househelps back to working for us – and we did, as soon as some restrictions were uplifted. We all worked from homes, but didn’t think twice about putting their health at risk. I guess, with great privilege, comes great ignorance.
Clearly, we only fight the fight to protect ourselves and do not care about the rest of the world. But it’s never too late to change. House helps deserve the dignity of labour as much as anyone else.