Tuesday, 9 August, 2022
HomeIndiaGovernanceMigrant workers, freelancers must be under social security net, Parliamentary panel suggests

Migrant workers, freelancers must be under social security net, Parliamentary panel suggests

The panel on labour also recommended that pension and healthcare needs of these workers should be provided from the social security fund. 

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New Delhi: Employers will not only have to register their household help, but also have to contribute for their social security, the Parliamentary standing committee on labour, which reviewed the Code on Social Security 2019 Wednesday, said in its draft report, ThePrint has learnt. 

The Code on Social Security, 2019, which will replace nine existing social security laws and is pending before the Parliament, has provisions for constituting a social security fund to help workers in the unorganised sector on matters relating to life and disability cover, health and maternity benefits, pension, etc. But the Code does not cover all categories of workers. 

The draft report, adopted by the standing committee, recommended universalisation of the social security coverage to include domestic workers, migrant workers, gig workers (freelancers), platform workers (who access other organisations using online platforms and earn money like Uber, Ola drivers) and agricultural workers. 

The Parliamentary committee has recommended that pension and healthcare needs of these workers should be provided from the social security fund.

“The panel has recommended that while employers will have to contribute a small portion, the majority of the contributions will come from states, Centre, CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) funds and donations,” one of the 14 MPs, who attended the meeting, said. 

The Code on Social Security, 2019, will replace nine social security laws, including Maternity Benefit Act, Employees’ Provident Fund Act, Employees’ Pension Scheme, among others. It will cover workers from both the organised and the unorganised sectors. 

The Code was introduced in the Lok Sabha in December 2019 and was referred to the standing committee on labour headed by senior BJD leader Bhartruhari Mahtab. 

The Code provides different applicability thresholds for various social security schemes. The Employees’ Pension Scheme, for instance, will cover establishments with 20 or more workers, while the Employees’ State Insurance Scheme will cover units with 10 or more employees.


Also read: Social security net could be Modi govt’s route to protect unorganised workers


Expand definition of migrant workers

The panel Wednesday recommended expanding the definition of migrant workers to include all such workers who are self-employed or go to another state and get directly employed.

Currently, the law defines a migrant worker as one who is recruited by or through a licensed contractor in a state for employment in an establishment in another state. 

It also defined an ‘inter-state migrant worker’ as any person, who is recruited by an employer or a contractor in one state for employment in an establishment situated in another state. 

Unemployment insurance for  unorganised sector 

The Parliamentary committee has also recommended providing unemployment insurance for the unorganised sector. 

“We have recommended building a contributory insurance mechanism that will help a worker in case he loses his job. While the worker concerned will contribute a small portion towards the insurance when he is working, respective state and central government will bear the major part of the contributions,” a second member, who attended the meeting told ThePrint.

The meeting was attended by 14 of the 31 MPs, who are members of the committee. Two Rajya Sabha MPs who are part of the committee —  CPI(M)’s Elamaram Kareem and DMK’s M. Shanmugam — have given dissent notes against the recommendations adopted by the committee. 

The standing committee will table its report in the monsoon session of the Parliament, likely to be held in early September. 


Also read: Direct cash transfer best way to help poor in Covid crisis. If Modi govt can’t do it, let us


 

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