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Gig Economy in India
News: Recently, the strike by Blinkit workers have highlighted the plight of Gig workers in the country.
Who is a Gig Worker?
The Code on Social Security, 2020 [Section 2(35)] defines a gig worker as ‘a person who performs work or participates in a work arrangement and earns from such activities outside of traditional employeremployee relationships.’ There are 2 groups of Gig workers – Platform workers and non-platform workers.
Who is a Platform Worker?
A platform worker implies a worker working for an organisation that provides specific services using an online platform directly to individuals or organisations.
Platform workers include Ola or Uber drivers, Swiggy or Zomato delivery agents.
Who is a Non-platform worker?
Those who work outside of these platforms are non-platform workers, including construction workers and non-technology-based temporary workers.
What are issues faced by Gig workers?
Lack of job security, uncertain future, irregular wages. For example, in the current blinkit controversy, per delivery amount was slashed by almost 10 rupees. The cumulative loss for workers is huge.
As the relationship is outside the scope of traditional, full-time employment gig workers lack basic rights such as minimum wages, overtime pay, medical leaves etc.
Limited access to internet and digital technology can be a restrictive factor for workers willing to take up jobs in the gig and platform sector.
What are recent initiatives to regulate Gig economy?
The Code on Wages, 2019 provides for universal minimum wage and floor wage across organised and unorganised sectors. It also includes Gig workers.
The Code on Social Security, 2020 recognises gig workers as a new occupational category and provides them with life and disability cover, accidental insurance, health & maternity benefits old age protection and other. It also proposed to establish a Social Security Fund and a National Social Security Board to ensure wellbeing of Gig workers.
E-Shram Portal – It creates database on unorganized workers including Gig workers.
What are concerns?
Out of the four new labour codes proposed, gig work finds reference only in the Code on Social Security. Thus, they cannot create legally recognised unions and access a national minimum wage that applies to all forms of employment.
They are also excluded from the category of ‘unorganised workers’ or ‘wage workers’.
They also remain excluded from accessing the specialised redressal mechanism against their employers and do not have the right to collective bargaining.
A petition demanding that gig workers or platform workers be declared as ‘unorganised workers’ is pending in the Supreme court.
In 2021, the UK Supreme Court classified Uber drivers as ‘workers’ under the UK Employment Rights Act 1996 and Germany’s Temporary Employment Act provides for equal pay and equal treatment of gig workers.
NITI Aayog has also recommended proper estimation of Gig workers in India to estimate size of Gig economy.