On Thursday, the European Commission augmented the working status of the Gig economy of Workers. Not only they will be ensured minimum wage but also enjoy benefits like sick pays, leaves, and on-the-job insurance. Amidst the growing concerns about pay-out and social security, Gig workers in India demanded similar coverage (under legislation). Asking for established acts, maternity benefits, and unorganized workers social welfare act/association. There was a petition filed in the Supreme court to secure benefits to the same.
According to Investopedia, the gig economy is the one where people work in part-time, temporary positions, or as independent contractors. Gig workers are widely categorized into freelancers, platform economy, and on-demand task-based workforce. India is among the top 10 on the global gig index. Also, it’s estimated that 50% of employment is generated via the economy. The demography of India favors this variable of the economy as well as helps in job creation (in non-farming sectors). there is an ease of entry in the gig economy which is missing in formal collar jobs. Also helps in securing supplementary pay for the ones going through an economical rough patch.
Despite the unadulterated praise for the gig economy, the very nature of this economy renders its workers vulnerable. There’s an ambiguity surrounding the employee contract, the rights of workers, and their remuneration. India still has a long way to go when it comes to digital literacy and connectivity. Digitalization has fuelled the gig and hence it’s usually the people from urban surroundings who are able to garb these gigs. The absence of any proper regulation also hampers labor rights as there’s no grievance redressal. Ample complaints of getting low wages have been put forth by delivery guys (swiggy, zomato). So, in order to secure a certain amount, these delivery guys end up working longer hours.
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The tales of the gig economy are grim when it comes to the women (workforce). According to the ILO (International labor organization), 4 out of 10 web-based platforms worldwide are women. Safety concerns are the primary reason for the lack of female participation in the gig economy. In India, it’s extremely rare to find a delivery person who happens to be a woman. Small independent businesses/freelancers on social media are not exempted from harassment. Thus, the Platform economy is largely patriarchal in its outlook. Although there has been a rise in women’s participation due to the flexibility offered by the gig economy (work from home), the underlining threat is there. The gig economy has a huge scope and is a great enabler paving way for further female empowerment.
The gig has a lot to offer and is a better alternative to informal working arrangements that already dominate India. It can facilitate in reducing inequality and poverty provided the cons associated with it are brought down. Policymakers need to give much-required attention to this economy both in theory and practice.