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11th March 2024 (10 Topics)

Gig workers are suffering: study

Context

A recent study of app-based workers shows they work long hours for low pay, with no social security, creating a loop of issues for them.

1: Dimension- Scope of the problem

  • Overburdened with work: Almost a third of app-based cab drivers work for over 14 hours a day, while more than 83% work more than 10 hours and 60% work over 12 hours.
  • Social disparities: Over 60% of the drivers from Scheduled Castes and Tribes working for over 14 hours a day, while only 16% from the unreserved category work such long hours.
  • Income disparities: There exists income disparities and these income disparities further exacerbate the already existing social inequalities and perpetuate cycles of poverty and distress within these communities.
  • Risks: Due to the demanding work hours, the drivers are physically exhausted, and exposed to an increased risk of road traffic accidents, especially due to the ‘10-minute delivery at the doorstep’ policy of certain e-commerce platforms.
  • Additional stress: The lack of social and job security creates additional stress and leads to potential health issues.

2: Dimension-Rules in developed economies

  • UK Supreme Court: In 2021, in a landmark judgment, the UK Supreme Court classified Uber drivers as ‘workers’ under the UK Employment Rights Act 1996, thus entitling them to various benefits like paid holidays and minimum wages.
  • Dutch High Courtalso handed down a similar ruling, stating that the legal relationship between Uber and the drivers meets all the characteristics of an employment contract, making them entitled to workers’ rights under local labour laws.
  • The Superior Court of Californiastruck down a 2020 ballot measure known as Proposition 22 that excluded gig workers from labour laws by declaring them ‘independent contractors’.
  • Germany’s Temporary Employment Actprovides for equal pay and equal treatment of gig workers.

3: Dimension- Required measures

  • There is need of stronger social security for app-based workers.
  • The government needs to exercise oversight on the fairness of algorithms and mechanisms used by platforms to monitor such workers.

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