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Set social security ball rolling for informal and gig workers

  • Published
    7th Sep, 2023

Context:

The e-Shram portal has registered over 280 million unorganized laborers, but there's no comprehensive social security policy at the central or state level.

The Plight of Gig and Platform Workers

  • Informal Workforce: India's workforce is divided into formal (9%) and informal (91%) categories. The latter lacks social security benefits, including gig and platform workers.
  • Gig Workers' Definition: Gig workers are freelancers paid for services, often with no traditional employer-employee relationship. Platform-based gig workers use apps to connect with clients.
  • Challenges of Gig Workers: Many gig workers work long hours without social security benefits, face job insecurity, and have no access to a redressal mechanism for work-related issues.

The Current Situation

  • Government Efforts: Rajasthan has enacted a law for the welfare of platform-based gig workers, but it excludes most informal workers.
  • Concerns of Gig-Platform Workers: Gig-platform workers lack defined benefits, medical care, protection from hire-and-fire policies, and redressal mechanisms. They often work long hours, leading to personal asset wear and income loss during emergencies.
  • Suggested Measures: Enrolling gig-platform workers with unique identity numbers (UINs), linking UINs with employers through AI, collecting a cess from service charges, and creating a social insurance fund are proposed to address these concerns.

Need for Comprehensive Social Security

  • Informal Workforce Challenges: 91% of India's workforce lacks core social insurance, including old-age pensions and maternity benefits. Fragmentary solutions, like state-level welfare boards, have not provided core social insurance.
  • Proposed Solutions: Suggestions include enrolling gig-platform workers with Uniform Identification Numbers (UIN), collecting a cess from service charges, and creating a social insurance fund.
  • Sustainable Development Goals: To address informality and fulfill the Sustainable Development Goals, India needs a comprehensive social security approach. There's a proposed roadmap to achieve this goal in a decade.
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