In its report, NITI Aayog estimated that more than 7.7 Mn workers were engaged in the gig economy in 2020-21 and the number would soar to 23.5 Mn by 2029-30
The report classified gig workers into two categories – non-platform and platform workers; where platform workers were defined as those working with Uber, Swiggy, and other platforms
NITI Aayog called on business platforms to institute measures to provide paid sick leave for all workers round the year.
Government think tank NITI Aayog called for extension of social security benefits to gig workers, including platform as well as non-platform workers, in the country.
The recommendation was made in a report, titled ‘India’s Booming Gig and Platform Economy‘, released by the think tank’s vice-chairman Suman Bery, chief executive officer (CEO) Amitabh Kant and special secretary K Rajeswara Rao on Monday (June 27).
The report called on business platforms to institute measures to provide paid sick leave to all workers engaged, round the year. It also urged the companies to ensure that provisions for insurance and access to healthcare services are available for all gig workers as part of the work-engagement policies of the companies.
“The recommendations in this report will serve as a crucial resource for ministries, state governments, training providers, platform companies and other stakeholders to work in collaboration for promoting growth and employment opportunities in this sector,” Kant said.
The report classified the gig workers into two categories – non-platform and platform workers. It defined non-platform gig workers as casual wage workers in the conventional sectors. On the other hand, platform workers were defined as those whose work related to online apps or digital platforms like Ola, Uber, Dunzo, Zomato, Swiggy, Urban Company.
The report estimated that more than 7.7 Mn workers were engaged in the gig economy in 2020-21, and said that the number would soar to 23.5 Mn by 2029-30. It further noted that gig workers were expected to form 4.1% of the total livelihood in India by 2029-30.
Accident Insurance And Other Measures
Referring to Indonesia’s example, the think tank also called on the companies to offer occupational disease and work accident insurance for employees.
Referring specifically to mobility players and delivery giants, NITI Aayog said that the startups should offer accident insurance to their gig workers in collaboration with the private sector or the government.
The report also envisages pension plans and other contingency benefits for gig workers. It called on gig and platform firms to adopt policies that offer retirement plans and other benefits for such workers.
NITI Aayog also suggested that new-age tech startups should provide income support to workers on the lines of minimum wage guarantee in the US. It also called on firms to extend interest-free loans to gig workers and small businesses listed on the platform.
It recommended setting up a corpus fund to mitigate any contingencies arising out of certain circumstances, such as pandemic.
Inclusion Is The Key
The report also devoted a section specifying the importance of gender inclusion and accessibility awareness programmes to the larger gig economy.
NITI Aayog called on the companies to undertake partnerships with civil society organisations to ensure women and specially-abled workers are encouraged to take up gig employment.
It also called on the companies to institute inclusive communication systems and changes in work-design to ensure more people from marginalised communities take up employment as gig workers in their respective companies.
It said platforms should incentivise inclusive businesses such as women-led groups or specially-abled groups that hire from marginalised sections.
Suggestions were also made with regards to upskilling of gig workers. It asked companies to collaborate with government departments to nurture talent and micro-entrepreneurship.
Amid a huge bump in the number of gig workers, the report also sought a separate enumeration exercise to estimate the size of the gig and platform workforce in the country.
The report comes barely a month after it was reported that delivery apps from Zomato to Dunzo were facing an outage of gig workers.
Earlier, many media portals reported a slew of issues plaguing the gig workers – from lack of job security to razor thin earnings. Critics had also raised concerns about road safety with regards to the much touted 10-minute delivery model.
It later also came to light that companies had instituted newer internal mechanisms that sought to penalise delivery executives for late deliveries in certain cases.
According to a report by industry body Assocham, India’s gig sector is projected to grow to $455 Bn by 2024.