Its about time that the government has acknowledged the importance of gig workers, which form multitudes, in India. A 2017 study by consulting firm EY said nearly one out of four gig workers in the world are in India.
Gig workers can be understood as the people who participate in a work arrangement system and earn livelihood via activities outside the traditional relationship between employer and employees. The term can also be referred to as higher-skilled workers like coders or technology professionals working part-time or as freelancers.
The central government has now proposed to provide such gig workers with insurance, health and maternity benefits, old-age protection and several other rights.
India has Over 10 Million Gig Workers
The number of gig workers has always been high in India and its no surprise that this number has been burgeoning with time. Uber, Ola, Swiggy, Zomato, Rapido, Bounce, Vogo and many others engage over 5 million gig workers altogether. On including Internet-based businesses, this figure goes upto 10 million and beyond.
Its appreciable that the government has finally recognised them under draft Code on Social Security, 2019. The proposal draft has been made by the labour and employment ministry. The draft includes people working with marketplaces and any other form of digital intermediaries.
As per the draft code, the central govt shall formulate and notify suitable welfare schemes for unorganised workers on matters relating to life and disability cover, health and maternity benefits, old age protection, and any other benefits.
This code shall merge eight existing laws and suggests that along with the central govt, the state govt may also formulate schemes for unorganised sector employees for offering them provident fund, employment injury benefit, housing benefit, educational schemes for their children and old age and funeral assistance.
Industry Experts Believe this Move to be ‘Over-Ambitious’
As we already highlighted the proliferation of such gig workers in the industry, a report published recently showed how about 70% Indian companies hired gig workers at least once last year. It is highly appreciable that they have finally been thought of, considering no social security system was initially there to nurture them.
However, certain observers and industry experts hailed the move but cautioned against overregulation. They raised concern around the implementation of the policy across digital businesses such as taxi aggregators, food apps and workforce supplier platforms.
Over regulations can burden such companies with extra cost, which will indirectly impact gig workers. In fact, the draft proposal comes in the wake of California on Wednesday approving a law for wage benefit and protection for gig workers.