Gig work’s inevitable & indispensable. But social security for such workers is essential

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News: The Supreme Court has agreed to take up a PIL seeking social security benefits for gig and platform workers. The case is likely to have a far-reaching effect on India’s labour market

It will also be closely followed globally as Indian gig workers face issues similar to those faced by their counterparts in rich countries.

Must Read: The tug of war within the gig economy
What is the legal status of a gig worker in India?

The Code on Social Security, 2020, for the first time gave a legal identity to the term gig worker.

It described gig work as a work arrangement outside the traditional employer-employee relationship. It said gig workers were entitled to a social security fund.

What are the problems faced by the gig workers?

An ILO report in 2021, which surveyed around 12,000 gig workers globally, irregularity of work and lack of social protection were two main issues faced by gig workers. For instance: Many countries classified gig work as “essential” during the first wave of Covid-induced lockdowns. Yet, they were often cut out of benefits extended to other frontline workers.

On the positive side, gig work expanded opportunities for people otherwise excluded in traditional work areas.

What are the global developments around which the current PIL is based upon?

The current PIL has a global context, reflected in three developments in economies with a higher standard of protection:

– In 2020, California in a ballot allowed platforms to classify gig workers as independent contractors, which meant that they were kept out of obligatory benefits.

The UK’s Supreme Court ruled that Uber must treat its drivers as workers and not self-employed.

And recently, the EU drafted a bill that presumes at least some of the bloc’s gig workers are employees and not contractors. It can potentially cover up to 10% of the 28 million workers.

What is the way forward?

Govt needs to frame rules in a way that finds the balance between the flexibility of the gig economy and getting platforms to make a contribution to the social security fund.

Source: This post is based on the article “ Gig work’s inevitable & indispensable. But social security for such workers is essential” published in TOI on 14th Dec 2021.

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