The shocking way India is underpaying its maids, nannies, and cooks—in six charts

Image: Reuters/Rupak De Chowdhuri
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Indians are anything but good paymasters when it comes to domestic help.

Close to 20 million people, mostly women, work as cooks, cleaners, and maids in India. Across the country, their average salaries don’t go beyond Rs3,000 ($45) a month, which is around Rs36,000 ($540)a year, despite working six or seven days a week in a full-time job.

The average monthly wages for a New Delhi maid stood at Rs6,000 ($90); it was Rs7,000 ($105) in Mumbai. In smaller towns, maids earn much less, according to, a Bengaluru-based job portal for blue-collared workers, that has estimated city-based average earnings of domestic workers in India.

“Domestic workers in India are unprotected, poorly paid, and lack safety,” Amod Kanth, chairperson of Domestic Workers Sector Skill Council, a government organisation that trains domestic workers told the Wall Street Journal. “They are considered servants, their work is servitude.”

In the US, maids earn close to $11 (Rs733) per hour in accordance with labour laws. But in India, there isn’t a nationwide policy on minimum wages for maids.  ”In the US, keeping a maid is a luxury,” Vir Kashyap, co-founder and chief operating officer of said. “In India the middle class also wants to keep a maid. As long as people keep migrating to cities looking for jobs, the supply will be huge. That will affect salaries too. “

Most drivers in India are men, and they tend to earn much more than maids.

Household cooks, meanwhile, earn slightly better than maids. For instance, while a maid gets Rs7,000 in Mumbai, a cook would earn over Rs8,500 ($127).

Meanwhile, salaries in Kolkata remained between 20% to 40% lower than in Mumbai or Delhi. For example, a watchman would get over Rs9,000 in New Delhi and Mumbai, but in Kolkata, it would be around Rs7,500 ($112).

Delhi, in particular, has a soft spot for gardeners. Compared to other cities, this category makes almost twice the money in the capital.