Domestic Workers and the Employer-Employee Relationship in Delhi

How to Cite

Pramberger, A. (2021). Domestic Workers and the Employer-Employee Relationship in Delhi: Personal Connection and Dissonance. Vanderbilt Undergraduate Research Journal, 11(1).


There are currently approximately four to five million domestic workers in India today. Most of these workers are women and migrants of lower castes or socioeconomic status and lack formal education. Domestic workers are not guaranteed social security, welfare, or basic rights in the workplace in India because domestic labor is part of the unorganized and therefore unregulated sector of industry. Workers make little money and are often overworked, abused, malnourished, and suffer psychologically in the workplace. The employer-employee relationship is critical to understanding the workplace environment, and control of the relationship can make it more or less professional, either benefiting or hurting workers. Two interviews with advocates for domestic workers from Nirmana, an NGO in Delhi, and five interviews with female employers of domestic workers in Delhi were conducted over Whatsapp. Employers often referred to their employees as family members, did favors for them, and understood some of their daily struggles while receiving emotional support. Blame for poor conditions was placed externally of the workplace, especially when applied to salary rates; employers claimed feeling helpless to improve conditions. Although the employers do speak about and in some ways care about domestic workers as family, they likely function at a level of dissonance, both being partially aware of and benefiting from the same system that oppresses their workers.
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