The increasing number of app-based platforms and the rising demand for
freelance labour have made the term "gig economy" a household term in recent
years. The phrase "gig economy" describes a labour market where freelancing or
short-term contracts are more common than permanent employment. The phrase "gig"
describes a one-time or transient engagement, such as a musical or comedic
performance. In the gig economy, employees work many gigs at once while using
internet platforms to network with new customers.
Over the past ten years, India has experienced substantial expansion in the gig
economy, fueled by the emergence of online marketplaces and rising smartphone
usage. While the gig economy has given workers in India new opportunities, it
has also sparked worries about how this novel kind of employment would affect
social protections and labour rules.
Advantages of Gig work
- Flexibility: Gig work allows you more freedom in terms of working hours,
location, and preferred work settings. This is especially helpful for those
who must juggle job with obligations to their families, studies, or health.
- Opportunities for employment: Gig work gives people a way to make money
without having to rely on regular employment. This is crucial in India,
where there is a high unemployment rate and a lack of employment
opportunities for many.
- Increases entrepreneurship: By enabling people to launch their own
businesses with little financial commitment, gig employment can contribute
to the rise of entrepreneurship.
- Job creation and economic expansion may result from this.
- Efficiency gains: Gig workers give businesses access to a larger talent
and skill pool, boosting efficiency and production.
It is a growing set of market which is creating a lot of jobs which has boosted
the employment in the market and has resulted in more participation of people in
The Situation of the Gig Economy in India Right Now
The gig economy in India is thought to be worth $1.5 billion and is anticipated
to expand quickly in the years to come. In India, the majority of gig workers
provide household, food, and transportation services. The biggest platforms in
India's gig economy include Swiggy, Zomato, Ola, and Uber. The labour
arrangements between the platform and the workers do not fit under the typical
employer-employee relationship in India, where food delivery workers connected
to digital platforms are not subject to labour law. The usage of contract
workers is one of the distinctive aspects of the gig economy in India. Companies
frequently use independent contractors or freelancers in place of hiring
employees. This enables businesses to forego benefit payments and compliance
with labour rules, such as those governing minimum wage and social security
Platform-based work can be categorised by separating it into capital and labour
platforms. Three categories may be made out: first, "click-work" platforms where
a worker is hired online for brief assignments ,second, platforms that enable a
meeting between workers and their clients for manual work and third, platforms
that support long-term employment a third category is "work-on-demand" services,
such as driving or delivery jobs arranged and managed by platform aggregators .
This third group includes delivery tasks based on food aggregators.
In terms of platforms, there is no unified definition of labour precarity.
Contrast it with standard employment, which is described as "a relationship
having socially secure, long-term, and full-time employment with a wage that
allows for a decent living."
The Effect of the Gig Economy on Indian Labor Laws
The suitability of current social and labour rules has been questioned in light
of India's growing gig economy. The purpose of India's labour laws is to
safeguard employees who are employed on a permanent basis and have access to
benefits like paid time off, health insurance, and retirement benefits. However,
contract workers and independent contractors are exempt from these restrictions.
The categorisation of workers is among the gig economy's major difficulties. In
India, the legal definition of an employee is based on elements like the amount
of control the employer has over the employee and the extent to which the
employee is financially dependent on the employer. However, in the gig economy,
where employees may have numerous clients and a high level of autonomy, this
description is not necessarily clear-cut
Numerous conflicts of interest between employers and employees have resulted
from the lack of legal clarity surrounding the classification of gig workers. As
an illustration, delivery personnel for food delivery services like Zomato and
Swiggy went on strike in 2019 to protest low pay and unfavourable working
conditions. In order to be eligible for benefits like the minimum wage and
social security contributions, the workers contended that they should be
categorised as employees rather than independent contractors.
In India, gig workers confront a variety of difficulties that typical employees
do not. The absence of benefits and job security is one of the major
difficulties. Many gig workers lack access to retirement benefits, paid
vacation, and health insurance. This could result in financial uncertainty might
make it challenging for employees to develop long-term plans.
The absence of legal rights is another difficulty experienced by gig workers.
There are no minimum wage regulations, social security regulations, or other
labour safeguards in India that apply to independent contractors. Therefore, gig
workers could receive pay that is below the minimum wage and might not be
qualified for benefits like workers' compensation. Exploitation may also result
from gig workers' lack of legal rights. For instance, some businesses may commit
wage theft by failing to compensate employees for all hours worked. Other
businesses may demand employees to put in long hours without breaks or carry out
tasks that are not covered by their contract.
Additionally, unions and civil society organisations have made an effort to
support gig workers. For instance, a trade union called the National Platform
for Domestic Workers initiated a campaign in 2020 to increase awareness of the
rights of domestic workers, who account for a sizable component of India's gig
The issues that the gig economy presents have been acknowledged by the Indian
government. The Ministry of Labour and Employment suggested a new labour code in
2020 that would provide gig workers with access to social security benefits. The
code has provisions for a social security system that would give gig workers
advantages including health coverage, maternity leave, and pensions.
Although the gig economy has the potential to open up new options for Indian
workers, it also poses serious difficulties for social protections and labour
regulations. Policymakers must strike a balance between fostering innovation and
defending workers' rights as the gig economy expands. New rules and legal
frameworks that take into consideration the distinctive features of the gig
economy, such as the prevalence of short-term contracts and the use of online
platforms, may be necessary to achieve this.
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