Paid domestic workers pose a challenge to legal theorists since they occupy the unique intersection of the market and the home. While being paid for the ‘care’ they provide, their work is characterised by a high degree of informality and is usually also considered emotive. I use India as a case study to show how attempts to include paid domestic workers within formal labour law protections have been consistently unsuccessful, which demonstrates the unique nature of paid domestic work. At the same time, academic arguments for the inclusion of such workers in family law frameworks raise several practical concerns and do not respond to the demands of domestic worker organising. This presents both difficult questions and unsatisfying answers. I suggest that instead of looking for all-encompassing legal theories, the law should embrace the legal ambivalence of paid domestic workers and create a menu of options that address their specific vulnerabilities.

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