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Rajasthan’s historic social security to gig workers, first time ever in India

IndiaRajasthan's historic social security to gig workers, first time ever in India

The Rajasthan Assembly made history on Monday by passing the Platform-Based Gig Workers (Registration and Welfare) Bill.

Under the leadership of Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, the state becomes the first to enact such legislation, which sets up a welfare fund for the benefit of gig workers and their aggregators. The bill received widespread praise from activists for its groundbreaking nature.

This aims at providing support to a significant number of young gig workers who have become integral to everyday life but struggle with low pay and job insecurity.  A gig worker is a person who does temporary or freelance work, especially an independent contractor engaged on an informal or on-demand basis.  Gig workers are mostly working on a part-time basis as a way to earn supplementary income.

The gig economy, comprising food and household goods delivery companies and service providers, offers a platform for people to work. However, many gig workers face challenges as they are often denied employee status, and their earnings are linked to the number of assignments or deliveries they complete.

Notably, gig workers lack essential benefits like paid leave, provident fund, and pension, though some companies may offer medical and accident insurance.

According to the newly passed bill, aggregators will need to submit data of all registered gig workers within 60 days of the law’s notification. The state government will then register the workers and assign a unique ID to each platform-based gig worker.

To support gig workers, the state government will initiate social security schemes by mobilizing funds from the aggregators. The bill ensures legal rights for gig workers to access these social security schemes and grants them a voice to express grievances.

The welfare and interests of gig workers will be represented through the Rajasthan Platform-Based Gig Workers Welfare Board, comprising 12 members, including representatives from gig workers, aggregators, civil society activists, and individuals with an interest in the field. The board’s responsibility will be to monitor the social security schemes for registered gig workers.

To fund the welfare board and the social security fund, aggregators will contribute a percentage of the transaction value as a fee. Any defaulting aggregators will be subject to interest payments and fines.

The Soochna Evum Rozgar Adhikar Abhiyan, an umbrella organization of civil society groups, hailed this legislation as historic. It emphasized the importance of the tripartite board, involving aggregators, worker organizations, and the government, in fulfilling its responsibilities.

This law is particularly crucial as it protects the rights of a vulnerable class of workers in the gig economy. The Abhiyan views it as the first step towards securing decent, dignified, and safe livelihoods for all unorganized workers, both in rural and urban areas.

The bill’s significance is underscored by the NITI Aayog’s estimation that India’s platform-based workforce is projected to expand from 7.7 million in 2020-21 to 23.5 million by 2029-30.

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