Ever since I read the news that the government is planning to get a law passed for paying housewives, I have been thinking about how much of the house work resembles work in the corporate sector. Much before multitasking entered the corporate world, the housewife — or better still the homemaker — has been donning several hats. While it does feel good to hear that there is some recognition coming in the form of pay, one wonders how the benchmark will be fixed.
If the pay is a percentage of the salary earned by the man of the house, this would turn out to be the only industry which will have a huge disparity in pay. All housewives have similar responsibilities. But the lucky ones whose husbands earn higher are better placed in terms of getting paid help or appliances that help in discharging their chores.
To start from the very beginning, the recruitment process which culminates in marriage itself is flawed as the objectives are not set clearly. There are no agreed evaluation processes or, for that matter, not even clear reporting lines. There is always this dotted line relationship with the mother-in-law which sometimes takes precedence over the direct reporting line, the husband. The fringe benefits — an occasional dinner in a restaurant, a movie, a well-deserved vacation, a dress or jewels — do not come at regular intervals. The leave policy is the worst, work is 24X7.
This is the only place where the leave has to be approved not only by those above you but those below too. The maid, the cook, the driver, the milkman, the paper boy, the ironwallah, all have to be informed and it has to be ensured that everything continues smoothly. The only instance where a parallel can be drawn with a corporate is — just as how the hard working ones end up working more, the homemakers with brilliant culinary skills end up entertaining guests during weekends too.
In most cases, there are no annual health checkups, these happen only when there is need when one of the supposedly unbreakable internal systems fails. There are no awards for ‘the best employee of the month or the year.’
There are no increments or incentives for good work. The performance evaluation is not a yearly or half-yearly exercise, it happens all the time. The feedback comes from different quarters, again quite often. Sometimes, these could be so contradictory that one is left wondering which is the right way to proceed. There is no retirement and hence no pension.
While it is fun to think, write and read about this, on a serious note, it would be more of an insult than recognition, and the homemakers will still gladly accept this insult only if it means tax saving for the husband and thereby some extra money which again will go into spending for the family! Long live the homemakers clan!!