- A gig economy is a free market system in which temporary positions are common and organizations hire independent workers for short-term commitments. Examples of gig workers include freelancers, independent contractors, project-based workers and temporary or part-time hires.
- Recently, the Rajasthan government passed the Rajasthan Platform Based Gig Workers (Registration and Welfare) Bill extending certain “rights” to gig workers, such as being registered with the state, having access to general and specific social security schemes, and having an opportunity to be heard for any grievances, among others.
Gig Economy in India:
- It is estimated that in 2020-21, 77 lakh workers were engaged in the gig economy. They constituted 2.6% of the non- agricultural workforce or 1.5% of the total workforce in India.
- The gig workforce is expected to expand to 2.35 crore workers by 2029-30. The gig workers are expected to form 6.7% of the non-agricultural workforce or 4.1% of the total livelihood in India by 2029-30.
Challenges for Workers in the Sector:
- Access to internet services and digital technology can be a restrictive factor for workers willing to take up jobs in the gig and platform sector.
- Lack of job security, irregularity of wages, and uncertain employment status for workers are significant challenges noted by studies in the gig and platform sector.
- The uncertainty associated with regularity in the available work and income may lead to increased stress and pressure for workers.
- The contractual relationship between the platform owner and worker is characterised as other than one of employment. Platform workers are termed as “independent contractors”. As a result, platform workers cannot access many of the workplace protections and entitlements.
- Studies have also reported that workers engaged in remunerative activities with digital platforms may face stress due to pressures resulting from algorithmic management practices and performance evaluation on the basis of ratings.
- Legal Recognition and Classification:
- Ensure clear legal definitions and classifications for gig workers to determine their rights and benefits. This could involve distinguishing between independent contractors and traditional employees or creating a new category with specific regulations.
- Minimum Wage Protections:
- Establish minimum wage standards for gig workers to ensure that they receive fair compensation for their work, regardless of the type of gig or the platform they work for.
- Access to Social Security:
- Facilitate access to social security benefits, including health insurance, retirement plans, and disability coverage. Consider portable benefits that workers can carry with them between gigs.
- Collective Bargaining Rights:
- Recognize gig workers’ right to organize and engage in collective bargaining. This allows them to negotiate better working conditions, fair wages, and dispute resolutions.
- Labor Market Information:
- Develop platforms or systems that provide gig workers with information about job opportunities, market trends, and wage standards to help them make informed decisions.
It is essential to create frameworks that empower gig workers to challenge their oppression and create pathways to claim their rights.