This article on ‘Rajasthan Passes Bill For Social Security To Gig Workers’ was written by Priyanka Jaipuria an intern at Legal Upanishad.
After the USA, China, Brazil, and Japan, India has emerged as the fifth-largest marketplace for gig workforces worldwide. In an open marketplace model known as the “Gig Economy”, consumers or companies temporarily hire independent contractors. Contractual employees who are recruited and fired on a temporary basis might find work through the gig economy.
The gig worker, as stated by Uber, Swiggy, Zomato, and others, does not have set working hours or a fixed place of employment; as a result, they are not covered by prevailing labour legislation. To avoid obligations like the minimum salary, the Provident Fund, and other benefits, they refer to their personnel as “delivery partners” instead of “employees”. The Bill is a welcome relief for Rajasthan’s gig workforce in this situation. It will make sure that the gig workforce has exposure to entitlements in accordance with the state government’s implied schemes.
This article has examined the important aspects of the Rajasthan Government’s social security law for gig workers as well as the present necessity for it. The gig sector holds enormous potential for the development of the economy, but this is only possible if workers are given sufficient legal protections and liberties. Realizing this, the administration of Rajasthan passed the “Rajasthan Platform-Based Gig Workers (Registration and Welfare) Act, 2023” as the country’s first state legislation relating to the gig workforce.
RATIONALE BEHIND THE INTRODUCTION OF THE BILL
- The law came about after social activist Nikhil Dey suggested it to Congress leader Rahul Gandhi during the latter’s Bharat Jodo Yatra in Rajasthan in December 2022. Subsequently, Rahul asked Gehlot to come up with social security and a support system for gig workers.
- During the February Budgeting Session, CM Ashok Gehlot presented the Bill and stated that “Currently, companies like Ola, Uber, Swiggy, Zomato, Amazon, etc. have engaged young workers on contract on a per-transaction basis. Such workers are called gig workers. Like elsewhere in the world, the scope of the gig economy is continuously growing in the state. Today, the number of gig workers in the state has increased to 3-4 lakh. These big companies do not make any arrangements for social security for these gig workers”.
- The Rajasthan government just enacted a substantial Bill on July 24 with the intention of expanding social security coverage to gig workers. According to the state government’s rationale for the legislation, “In spite of their major contribution to the economy and employment, gig workers form a part of unorganized workers and are still not covered under the labour laws. They do not receive the same level of protection as traditional employees get”.
WHO ARE GIG WORKERS?
A gig worker is a member of the labour force who receives compensation from sources other than the typical employer-employee relationship and who is employed by one or more platforms or aggregators, which include Swiggy, Zomato, Uber, Urban Company, etc., under the terms of a contract that specifies a certain rate of remuneration. They offer a range of services, including graphic design, website development, domestic services, e-commerce, and food delivery.
MAIN FEATURES OF THE BILL
- Inclusion of Workers Categorized as Partners: The purpose of the legislation is to rectify the absence of protections and advantages for gig labourers, who were formerly considered “partners” instead of employees at organizations such as Ola, Swiggy, Zomato, etc.
- Fund for Social Security and Welfare: The state administration would create “The Rajasthan Platform-Based Gig Workers Social Security and Welfare Fund” in accordance with the bill’s terms for the betterment of the certified gig workforce. The money collected from the welfare cess imposed on an aggregator or employer will be deposited into the fund.
- Welfare Board for Gig Workforce: The interests and security of gig labourers in the state will be under the control of this board. The board would convene at least once every six months, with the Labour Minister serving as chairperson.
- Provision for Registration: Each gig labourer who is hired by aggregators (online middlemen that connect customers and service providers) or primary employers (who hire gig labourers directly) functioning in the territory of Rajasthan is required under the Bill to register before the Board. The Act mandates that every aggregator and employer enroll with the Board within 60 days of the Act’s effective date.
- Maintenance of an Extensive Database: The Rajasthan administration will keep an extensive record of every gig worker there. Every gig worker will receive a special ID that will make it easier to track their working history and benefits.
- Accessibility to Social Security Initiatives: The gig sector will have recourse to a variety of social security initiatives that include health care, accident protection, and other assistance programs to help out in times of need.
- Mechanism for Redressing Grievances: The Act guarantees that gig workers possess the right to be heard and that their complaints will be addressed. This clause aims to safeguard gig worker’s rights and give them a forum for resolving workplace-related conflicts.
- Penalties for Failure to Comply: The law contains provisions for fines in the event that aggregators fail to comply.
- Aggregators who do not pay the welfare fees by the deadline will be assessed interest at a rate of 12% per year.
- The state administration has the authority to punish aggregators up to Rs. 5 lakh for a first offense and up to Rs. 50 lakh for consecutive infractions of the Act.
The framing of a specific bill by the Rajasthan government dealing with gig workforces is a remarkable approach, and it becomes the duty of the state government to ensure proper implementation of the provisions and strict adherence to the guidelines of the legislation. For this purpose, proper maintenance of data relating to registration, funds, and other related matters is required.
Not only the Rajasthan government but also the Central Government must make efforts to equalize the rights of this crucial sector so it may evolve further without leaning on exploitation.
People’s perspectives on employment have shifted as a result of the rapid growth of the gig market. The range of gig success in a place like India is broad and multilayered. It is encouraging to see that the government of Rajasthan has thought about putting light-touch regulations in place to strike a balance between business requirements and the expanding gig economy.
Gig worker’s share of the workforce has increased significantly as a consequence of their benefits, which include the capacity to choose their own work schedule, shifts, breaks, and days of work. However, there is no specific statute or legal precedent addressing gig workforces under India’s labour laws. Employers have exploited this discrepancy all across the world.
A sign of optimism for the acknowledgement of gig workers and their fundamental rights is Rajasthan’s recently enacted bill. Achieving social security for the gig economy will be made easier with the support of this recognition, which will also help aggregators better understand their obligations. The groundbreaking law, which is thought to open a fresh chapter in the history of worker rights, is truly urgently needed.
- Haini Tayal, “Regulating the Gig Economy in India: How Secure are Gig Workers” 28 Supremo Amicus (2022).
- “Rajasthan Platform-Based Gig Workers (Registration and Welfare) Bill, 2023”, Drishti IAS, 26 July 2023, available at: https://www.drishtiias.com/daily-updates/daily-news-analysis/rajasthan-platform-based-gig-workers-registration-and-welfare-bill-2023 (Last visited on July 28, 2023).
- Anuradha Gandhi and Isha Sharma, “Rajasthan Passes Bill for Welfare of Gig Workers- India”, Lexology, 25 July 2023, available at: https://www.lexology.com/library/detail.aspx?g=813d6c46-a0ee-44ff-8381-3373640be518 (Last visited on July 28, 2023).
- Hamza Khan, “Rajasthan Tables Bill to Guarantee Social Security to Gig Workers”, The Indian Express, 22 July 2023, available at: https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/jaipur/rajasthan-tables-bill-guarantee-social-security-gig-workers-8853922/ (Last visited on July 28, 2023).