Home-based Work in India

We have information on Home-based Work in India including labour laws, rights and benefits of freelance work, informal work, work from the home, how workers earn from home-based work etc.

How is home-based work defined in India?
The Ministry of Labour, Government of India has adopted a broader definition and identified the basic criteria to define home-based workers for the purpose of the national policy framework as:
• Persons working in the unorganized sector irrespective of whether self employed or in piece rate employment
• Location of work being home
• Low income
• Outside the social security net.

What does the national law say about home based workers and their rights?
There is no specific law relating to home-based workers in Indian legislation. But it may be mentioned here that the definition is critical, because it influences the workers’ and their organizations’ right to be registered as a union under the Trade Unions Act.
•    Right to Decent Work
•    Right to Minimum Income
•    Right to Social Protection

What is the payment for home based worker?
The form of payment is usually by the piece or unit of production, but not all piece-rate workers are home workers. As they fall under informal sector of working, payment for the home-based workers is generally not on fixed wages and mostly at times fall under the unpaid workers category.

What is the magnitude of home based workers in India?
Statistics on home-based workers are difficult to come by. In terms of numbers, about 23% of the non agricultural workers are home-based. Among these home-based workers, nearly 38% undertook production under some form of production from an outside agency. An overwhelming 57% of the workforce of home-based workers are women. They can be self-employed home-based workers or work from home on a subcontract. The estimates by the NSS 55th round, on the other hand, indicate that this number in the non-farm informal sector is around 28.7 million (2006). However, unofficial sources indicate that their number may be between 30-50 million or more (Jhabvala, 1996).

In India, amongst the self-employed home-based workers in the non-agricultural sector, 67% were women. From amongst the women home-based workers, 49% of the women home-based workers were undertaking production under some form of subcontracting. This means that nearly half of the home-based women workers in India are working from home, on a subcontract, for an outside agency. This arrangement is very exploitative and payments are made on a piece rate basis.


•    Out of the Shadows: Homebased Workers Organize for International Recognition
•    Rights of Home-based Workers, National Human Rights Commission, New Delhi

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