All About Hiring Helpers


Why should we as a community ensure that Domestic Helpers stay home during CORONA lockdown?

Multi story chawl clappin for appreciation
People clapping in show of appreciation at a Chawl in Mumbai

Tempers are running high in some “upper class societies”. Many employers are asking: Why can’t our domestic helpers come to work? We will maintain their hygiene, so what is the issue? How can you dictate that Maids are not allowed to enter a society? How do you expect us to manage on our own? Let me try to explain with the example of Mumbai.

Note: I can do so because having run for the past 5 years I have been to all slums of Mumbai.

Facts first: 41% of 22 million in Mumbai live in slums. An average domestic worker in Mumbai would be living with her husband and atleast 4 kids/parents. So, 6 people in a home on an average. Your Helper may be one of them.

TYpical room of a domestic worker
Typical room of a domestic worker in Mumbai

Her room is maybe ten feet by ten feet at the best.

Lane in a Chawl with houses on both sides
A lane in a Chawl with house on both sides

The lane where her home is would be lined with similar rooms on both sides.

Even if people sit at their doorsteps social distancing becomes impossible. This means approximately 9 million people in Mumbai live in areas where homes are hardly two metres apart.

SOcial distancing in slums
This is the distancing when they are out of their homes

And they would surely need to come out of their homes for some time during the day. So, imagine what happens to social distancing, irrespective of teh hygiene you have helped her maintain.

Multi story chawl where Helpers live
A multi-storey Chawl: Where is any boundary?

The lanes are so narrow that only one person can pass at a time, or they are so built that you have to pass by many other homes to go anywhere. Either way, when they step out to go to the public toilet or to buy vegetables & groceries they have no choice but to be close to each other.

Community life in a Chawl
This is maybe the biggest open space in a Chawl

Often they can’t have even a foot between them. So, if anyone of them gets infected the whole community will just flare up. And then if they come to your home and touch everything in your house you have a good chance of getting infected.

The best bet therefore is to ensure that they stay in their respective chawls so that they do:

  1. Not get exposed to Corona Virus from any outside source, including their employers
  2. Not carry the infection back to others, including their employers

Only solution maybe is to treat the whole Chawl as a big household to contain everything within for their and our safety. That is possible when EVERY housing society & EVERY home around a chawl supports the policy of giving their Helpers time off.

So, let your Helpers stay at home.

Humble Request: Pay them full salary because even today they are helping you: They are keeping you safe by staying at their homes.

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