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NITI Aayog bats for gig workers — suggests paid sick leave, insurance, retirement plans for all

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NITI Aayog bats for gig workers — suggests paid sick leave, insurance, retirement plans for all


The NITI Aayog today released a report on India’s 'Booming Gig and Platform Economy,' shining a torch on the need for social security in the 'invisible' sector comprising big companies like Ola, Uber, Zomato, Swiggy, yet no official data on the extent of gig work in the country.

NITI Aayog on June 27 released a report on 'India’s Booming Gig and Platform Economy.' The report presents comprehensive perspectives and recommendations on the gig economy in India.

In the report, NITI Aayog suggested that companies such as Ola, Uber, Swiggy, Zomato —which had introduced paid sick leave, health access and insurance during the COVID-19 pandemic — may adopt them as a part of their workplace policies covering all the workers they engage throughout the year.

The report was released by NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant, Vice Chairman Suman Bery and Special Secretary Dr K. Rajeswara Rao.

The report came up with a few other suggestions for the social security of gig and platform workers in India: 

1. Occupational disease and work accident insurance: Providing accident insurance to all delivery and driver partners, and other platform workers across the country in collaboration with the private sector or the government, as envisaged under the Code on Social Security, 2020.
2. Retirement/pension plans and other contingency benefits.
3. Support to workers in a situation of irregularity of work.
4. Supporting small businesses and entrepreneurs associated with platforms: Extending interest-free business advances and delayed payback periods to protect the gig workers, self-employed and small businesses engaged with them.
5. Contingency cover out of a corpus fund.

India's gig workforce and sector spread

The report estimated that India had 68 lakh gig workers in FY20 and 77 lakh workers in the next fiscal. The workforce is expected to expand to 2.35 crore by the 2029-30 fiscal year. India's gig workers are expected to form 6.7 percent of non-agricultural workforce and 4.1 percent of the total workforce in India by FY30, the report stated.

The report stated that there were 26.6 lakh gig workers in retail trade and sales, 13 lakh in the transportation sector, 6.2 lakh in manufacturing and 6.3 lakh in finance and insurance activities.

However, there is no official data that can authoritatively estimate the extent of gig work in India, thereby rendering the gig workforce invisible.

Challenges faced by gig workers 

Accessibility: Access to internet services as well as digital technology can be a restrictive factor, which makes the gig economy, largely, an urban phenomenon.

Job and income insecurity: Most workers are not classified as employees with income security and social protection, so they lack labour and income security as well as work-based identity.

Occupational safety and health risks: Studies show gig workers, especially women working for app-based taxi and delivery sectors, face various occupational safety and health risks such as road safety, possibility of theft and physical assault, discrimination or harassment.

Skills mismatch: According to ILO surveys, workers with higher educational achievements are not necessarily finding work commensurate with their skills.

Challenges faced due to terms of contract, weak collectivisation: Working conditions that are largely regulated by terms of service agreements, cannot access many of the workplace protections and entitlements. Also since the workers seldom meet or get together, it becomes difficult for them to form associations for collective bargaining.

Stress: Workers are likely to face stress due to pressures resulting from algorithmic management practices and performance evaluation on the basis of ratings.

Other recommendations

The report also came up with recommendations for the government, civil society, allied businesses and non-profit organisations with regard to the gig platform. They are as follows:

  • Ensure universal coverage of platform workers via the Code on Social Security.
  • Bridge skill gaps by carrying out periodic assessments and partnering with platform businesses for onboarding skilled women and persons with disabilities (PwDs).
  • Reach out to unbanked and underbanked women and PwDs via fintech services.
    • Organise gender sensitisation and accessibility awareness programmes for all public-facing personnel, from traffic cops and law and order police to toll booth operators, etc.
    • Incentivise inclusive businesses, such as platforms that are women-led or that encourage recruitment of women employees and those with disabilities.
    • Make aggregate data publicly available to enable robust decision-making by the ecosystem.
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