How to help your maid exchange 500 and 1000 rupee notes

Debit cards. Credit cards. Paytm. That’s what we rely on when the Prime Minister of India declares demonitisation. It affects most of us very little; we’re either well stocked up on essentials like groceries and medicines, or we have the means of paying for them with plastic money or Sodexho. But what about our house help? Most of them are mothers of little children, whom they support single-handedly because their husbands have left them or don’t contribute to family expenses, drinking up all they earn. Many of these women don’t have any form of ID proof, which makes it impossible for them to have bank accounts and, most important for now, harder to exchange the invalid Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes. As people who have all we need for this, it’s our prerogative to help them out.

Here are five ways of coming to their aid:

1. Rs 4,000 can be exchanged for cash at every bank with a valid ID proof.

If your maid, gardener or cook does have an ID proof, give them some time off everyday this week to go to the nearest bank or post office to exchange their cash.

2. If they don’t have an ID card, offer to exchange some money with your own.

When you go to the bank, since you’re unlikely to have too much currency on hand, thanks to Debit, Credit and Net Banking, you’ll be able to bring them enough for emergencies. If the cash they possess exceeds the Rs 4,000 limit, do some little by little, a day at a time, just as you’d have done for yourself.

3. For more than Rs 4,000 at a time, the only way you can get an exchange is to have the money credited to your account.

Without an ID proof to speak of, there’s no way your house help will even have thought of a bank account. You can, however, give them written permission to have the exchanged amount credited to your account instead. You can withdraw Rs 10,000 per day by cheque and return it to them.

4. Help them figure out how to apply for an ID proof.

Without a birth certificate or a 10th grade marks card, they won’t be able to produce the necessary documents that are needed for a PAN card. The Aadhar card can be applied for without prior documentation, but they need a reference for that. Have them name you as a reference and attest for their information. You might have to start with filling out the application form if they’re illiterate.

5. Aid them in opening a bank account, once they get their Aadhar card.

Again, if they can’t read or write, it’ll be left to you to help them write things out. If, on the other hand, they can do it all themselves, they might need an introduction (not every bank asks for it, but yours might). In that case, provide them with it.

When you’re considering charitable activities, it always makes sense to begin from your own home. We’ve stepped up in times of natural calamities with food, shelter and clothes (think 2015 Chennai floods). This is a mini disaster of sorts too for those stranded without bank accounts. Come forward. There’s much to do till the 30th of December.