Impact of Covid-19 and Lockdowns on the Domestic Workers : First Report

Antara Rai Chowdhury, Gautam Bhan, Kinjal Sampat, RMKU | 2020


This report anchors the intention of RMKU and IIHS to trace the journey of domestic workers from impact and relief to recovery, or the lack thereof, over a year. In doing so, we hope to offer an archive critical both to the union to understand and organise its own responses to its members, as well as for a larger understanding of medium-term recovery from an economic shock like COVID-19 and the lockdown on informal workers as well as the particular impact on the sector of paid domestic work.

It is divided in three sections. Section 1 captures impact on income and employment by juxtaposing conditions in February with months of March and April. Section 2 deepens the understanding of impact by highlighting the means employed by households in order to survive the lockdown. In addition to measuring impact on savings, debt is analysed in detail in this section. The Union, both by itself and in partnership with the state, offers us models and practices that directly address the informal nature of the work, the gaps in data, vulnerability rather than poverty, debt and rent beyond food and income, as well as solidarity and community.

Section 3 attempts to complete the picture by shifting attention to issues of sociality, integration into social protection mechanisms in Jaipur and the nature of their relationship with the ‘place of origin’. This report particularly brings attention to “semi-permanent” migrants – those that have no intention of leaving, yet, despite years of residence, are also not fully integrated in social protection where they are.