The latest tech-based initiatives in the domestic work industry attempting to make lives easier for employers and employees alike
3 minutes read
Poonam is a homemaker residing in Mumbai. Her housemaid had to return to her hometown abruptly due to a family emergency. Meanwhile, Poonam was desperately searching for a domestic worker to take over. Despite asking neighbors, family, friends, watchmen, etc., she couldn’t find a suitable maid. That is when one of her colleagues told her about bookmybai.com, a Mumbai-based online service used to hire permanent domestic helpers like maids, cooks, babysitters or nannies and caretakers. Poonam was astounded. Once she discovered the variety of online maid services, the process became much more convenient for her.
This article is about the latest tech-based initiatives in the domestic work industry attempting to make lives easier for employers and employees alike. They make finding well-qualified househelp simpler and at the same time, incorporate a great deal of structure into this hugely fragmented sector. Over the last couple of decades, a variety of online maid services, agencies, mobile apps, etc. have surfaced which help employers select the maid of their choice by filtering candidates based on skill levels, verifying training with links to institutions and viewing candidate references.
Apart from bookmybai.com, there is Mumbai-based Dr Manju Maid Services which has provided jobs to over 15,000 people to date in places like Pune, Bangalore, Delhi, and Mumbai; Bangalore’s babajob.com, gkmaidservices.com, mychores.in, Housemaidforyou, Maidinindia, Helper4U and getdomestichelp.com among others.
In another interesting venture, Gauri Singh, the founder and CEO of The Maids’ Company (TMC), has come up with a maid trainer app called DekhoSeekho, which seeks to improve the skill sets, and thereby, the income levels of domestic helpers. Following suit is a Mumbai-based app MyDidi. All the domestic helpers or didis are paid a fixed income, plus bonuses that they get if they have a good rating on the app. BookMyBai is launching three new apps: an Uber-like app that will show the availability of domestic workers in a particular locality and connect them with employers, a fin-tech app that will make payments via bank account transfers easy for employers, and another referral app for workers to get job seekers on board and make a small commission in the process. Taskbob and Mr. Right are some other on-demand home services apps. Along with The Maid’s Company, not-for-profit placement/training services like Saath Livelihood Services and Delhi, School of Dignity in Jharkhand, and Gurgaon-based B-Able Domesteq prioritize the safety and well-being of the workers while focusing on perks like insurance benefits, flexible work hours, and paid weekly-offs.
Some firms also ensure that the employees are trustworthy and professional by putting a lot of emphasis on verifications, past employment, criminal records, if any, and complete health checks.“I would see my workers buy a mobile phone, and as prices came down, a smartphone. They all had Whatsapp and would use the app to interact with the office and clients. They would watch or download videos on the phone all the time,” said Gauri Singh, “So tech is the answer.”
Nevertheless, there is still a long way to go. According to experts, domestic workers are still far from being recognized as employees, and discriminatory practices continue to prevail. For instance, maids often are not allowed to use elevators or washrooms. There is also a high level of mistrust involved between the employer and the maid. The most common demands of domestic workers have been physical security, minimum wages, and an identity like a normal employee would have.
Moreover, in a post-lockdown world, companies like the ones mentioned above could play a really big role. Maids don’t have to rely only on a word-of-mouth network to find jobs. Certain firms provide free accommodation and food to workers who migrate from the hinterlands to the cities until they find a home to work at. In cases of abuse, BookMyBai helps workers by terminating their employment and finding them a new job. Other firms have been undertaking similar courses of action.
So basically, even though tech-based ventures like these cannot fully eradicate the plight faced by domestic workers (because that also necessitates significant amendments in legislation, which has been ineffectual so far), they have succeeded in bringing about substantial respite to their work conditions. By utilizing these platforms, we will not only make our lives easier but simultaneously promote online platforms that are striving to make the unorganized sector a little more organized.
- Times of India: Mumbai woos live-in help with more pay, wifi
- Economic Times: Maid service provider BookMyBai.com gets Rs 1 crore in Round 1 from investors
- Deccan Herald: Maid in India: Domestic help a click away
- The Better India: Get a Didi, Not a Maid