The Covid-29 pandemic brought unprecedented disruption in the workplace and prompted many employees to adopt technologies that facilitated work from home. The global employment figure shows that approximately 2 billion people operate in the informal sector. Today, the gig economy ranges from ride-sharing, home-services, deliveries, beauty and wellness, among others. MGNREGA is also a form of gig work.
Recently, the Prime Minister announced that 800 million people in India received free ration through Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojna. It indicated that a vast section of the population is still vulnerable, and it requires hard work for creating more job opportunities in the sector.
The gig economy started to grow with the advent of internet and smart phone penetration. Due to its flexible and participatory nature, it offered leverage to the employees to choose days/hours one wanted to devote towards earning. The only concern – social coverage and safety – was taken care of by the Ministry of Labour that interacted closely with the industry to initiate Code on Social Security 2020, which defines a gig worker as a person who performs work or participates in a work arrangement.
Startups these days have started operating in gig economy space providing gig employees a form of social security cover such as insurance. The Social Security Code 2020 aims at providing social security for unorganized sectors. The Code requires 1-2 per cent contribution of annual turnover of the aggregators who don’t exceed 5 per cent of the amount payable to gig employees.
Due to the gig economy, start-ups like “JEEVITAM” have started emerging. It is generating massive social impact at the grass root level. The startup combines old technology using IVRS with new technologies using AI, connecting new age startups with their customers online. Even through gig economy seems like a boon to crores of Indians, the concerns pertaining to safety and social security is still there.
Gig economy has opened new opportunities to contribute to the value chain. Today, gig work includes financial advisors, delivery entrepreneurs, home services, resellers, online tutors, tech freelancers and cloud kitchen entrepreneurs, among others. The government should thus, create more jobs and strive to create more work opportunities along with ensuring social safety and security, and equitable earnings for all. Better road safety and traffic management provisions, etc. should be prioritized as workers’ safety is correlated to well-planned public infrastructure.