New opportunities offered due to advancement of technology, specialised
facilities and comfort of consumers has given rise to an innovative for of
workforce, namely, the gig workers. These types of workers are those who conduct
work or engage in a work arrangement and benefit from such activities outside
the conventional employer-employee relationship, according to the proposed
Social Security Code Bill.
While the opportunity is a blessing for the unemployed population of the nation,
at the same time they must face the herculean task of being granted 'employee'
status, regularised salaries and other social securities. Besides, gig workers
cannot unionize and have low bargaining power, which adds to their
vulnerabilities in the long run. The nature of job allows for an individual
to be enrolled with more than one company at a time. Prima facie it appears to
be economically yielding.
However, having multiple employers opens the floodgates of denying social
security benefits to gig workers, arguably shifting burden to other employers of
the individual. This paper aims to discuss/analyse how the benefits guaranteed
to gig workers via the Code on Social Security, 2020 (hereafter, Act) be granted
to individuals working with multiple companies.
What does the code state?
Chapter IX of the Act provides for social security of gig workers, which mainly
is controlled by the National or the concerned state government. Section 112 of
the Act provides aids gig workers via toll free number for the dissimilating
information, registration, filing and assistance for various benefits schemes
announced by the appropriate government. Section 113 states the eligibility of
gig workers to avail the benefits of the formulated schemes.
Section 114 provides for the types of benefit schemes that can be formulated by
government. The same is also mentioned under section 2(72) of the act. The
benefits are health care and to provide income security, particularly in cases
of old age, unemployment, sickness, invalidity, work injury, maternity or loss
of a breadwinner by means of rights conferred on them and schemes framed. The
schemes are to be monitored by the National Social Security Board as mentioned
under section 6(7) of the Act. Although, the statue mentions several benefits
and the procedure to procure them, the lacuna exists in case of multiple
employers of a worker.
The proposed solution's
The rampant dependence on various apps likewise, food from Swiggy/Zomato; Cab
from Ola/Uber etc. has heated up the requirement for gig workers by various
multinational companies. Due to the occasional employment of the gig economy,
workers enter in a contract with companies that require their skill set.
Let us consider an example wherein a gig worker, is a driver at Uber and a
delivery person at Myntra and Amazon. He/she must have three different
agreements and granted the benefits as per the policies of the company. Health
and medical allowances are the most basic benefits that every company must offer
to its workers.
Now, in case of an accident of the gig worker (which was not his/her negligence
but an honest accident) who would be liable to pay the compensation if any?
The abovementioned issue by analysing the course of employment. The liability of
compensation and other health benefits must be borne by the company whose task
the worker was fulfilling. The course of employment essentially means the period
in which the worker is preparing or performing the task. In case of gigs via
apps, the course of employment begins from the moment the service provider
connects the worker and the consumer. The approval of worker for the job (e.g.,
driver confirming ride on uber) is pivotal to being the employment.
Permanent or Partial Disablement
Owing to the understanding propagated in a few judgements, we can consider gig
workers as 'workers.'
In case of any type of disablement the employee compensation under the Act must
be given by again on the basis of course of employment theory. If there is an
overlap in discharge of service by the worker, the compensation must be shared
equally by both the employers. For example, an Uber ride booked from the
location where Myntra parcel is to be dropped. ON the way, worker meets with an
accident, then the compensation must be shared by both the companies as he/she
was in the course of employment of both.
Implementation of these benefits has failed to a great extend in case of
unorganised workers. However, lets presume that in case of gig workers they are
discharged effectively due to the registration with the companies, appropriate
government and awareness. The filter of working at least 90 days likewise the
formal sector must be applied. This can have two outcomes, the employment with
one or more company passes this filter and with others 90-day requirement is not
met from the date of the delivery. In such situations, the companies with whom
the requirements are satisfied must share the compensation. While others are
free from any such liability.
Old Age workers is the most vulnerable group and requirements of them must be
highly echeloned. This group is given assistance under various schemes of
Government that must not be used an excuse to deny them benefits by the
employers. The relaxations in limitation period in matters like bonuses or daily
targets must be given by companies.
The creche facility of all the employers must be accessible to the workers and
the most convenient one can be chosen. This flexibility allows better
performance at jobs. The Prevention of Sexual Harassment at workplace must also
expand to include gig workers under it. Furthermore, employers must not refrain
from protecting women from any harassment. in the course of their employment
Challenges to the Solutions
The greatest challenge would be if the gig workers do not disclose that they are
enrolled with other companies too. This will amount to double, triple or even
more times receiving/ payment of benefits. This situation can, however, be
avoided by a mechanism like the e-shram registration which is done by the
The registration of every gig worker must be made mandatory, and incentives must
be given to register. Details such as employer, type of work, date on which the
job started, etc must be enquired in the form. The database can serve the
companies while enrolling gig workers and at the time of discharging benefits.
Also, punitive actions must be taken in case of any violation. Another probable
challenge could be when employers do not agree to share the compensation due to
different company policies. The regulatory cholesterol in domain can only be
reduced by intervention of industry/ labour authorities wherein, they mandate
that the policy of the company which favours the labours must be followed in
sharing. The rationale behind the same is that the aim of compensation or
benefits is to socially secure the gig worker.
The hardship of gig workers under labour laws are evidenced very often. In case
of gig worker employed at various companies can be given compensation and other
benefits in the following ways. The work done must be looked from the lens of
course of employment, sharing of benefits in case of an overlap, eligibility for
benefits as followed under formal sector and synchronised schemes of labour
authorities and government. It is not possible to provide composite set of
benefits as gig economy is an upcoming dynamic domain, however, certain
guidelines and general principles can serve the problem positively.
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- Hodory M., Gig Workers and Performance Pay:A Dynamic Equilibrium Analysis of an On-Demand Industry, Available here: https://economics.sas.upenn.edu/system/files/2020-10/JMP_Hodor.pdf
- Paul Harpur, Peter Blanck, Gig Workers with Disabilities: Opportunities, Challenges, and Regulatory Response, Journal of Occupational Rehabilitation (2020) 30:511�520, https://doi.org/10.1007/s10926-020-09937-4
- Bhanu Mati Doshi and Hitesh Tikyani, A Theoretical Integration of GIG Economy: Advancing Opportunity, Challenges and Growth, International Journal of Management (IJM), 11(12), 2020, pp. 3013-3019.
- Chaudhary R., India's Emerging Gig Economy: Shaping the Future of Work for Women, Georgetown Journal of Asian Affairs, Volume 7
- The benefits are also granted to unorganized and platform workers. This paper is only focuses on gig workers, henceforth only gig workers is mentioned.
- Section 2(72) of the Code on Social Security, 2020
- (i) Dynamex Operations West Inc. v The Superior Court of Los Angeles County Ct. App. 2/7 B249954; (ii) Delhi Commercial Driver Union v UOI (Delhi High Court, W.P.(C) 3933/2017); (iii) Dharangadhara Chemical Works vs. State of Saurashtra (Appeal (civil) 85 of 1956 1957 AIR 264 ) and Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board v A.S. Rajappa (1978) 2 SCC 213)