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Social security soon for freelancers, Zomato-Swiggy delivery personnel, Ola-Uber cab drivers

Labour ministry accepts parliamentary panel’s recommendation to set up social security fund for gig and platform workers, to be paid for by aggregators.

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New Delhi: Freelancers, also known as ‘gig workers’, and platform workers who access other organisations using online platforms, such as delivery personnel working with food aggregators like Zomato and Swiggy and cab drivers with aggregators such as Ola and Uber, will soon come under the social security net.

ThePrint has learnt that the Union Ministry of Labour and Employment has accepted the recommendation of the parliamentary standing committee on labour, and proposed setting up a Gig and Platform Workers’ Social Security Fund in the draft Code on Social Security (CoSS), 2020.

The CoSS defines ‘gig workers’ as people who earn their living in a work arrangement outside of traditional employer-employee relationships.

The fund, ministry sources said, will be administered by the Centre and contributions to it will mainly come from the aggregators. According to the cabinet proposal that the ministry has drafted, the aggregators will have to make a mandatory contribution of up to 2 per cent of the annual turnover from their operations.

“The fund will be used for meeting the social security and welfare needs of gig and platform workers,” the source said.

The ministry has also proposed setting up a board for the welfare of gig and platform workers. The board will be headed by the labour minister, and will include representatives from central and state government, gig and platform workers, Central Provident Fund Commissioner and director general of the Employees’ State Insurance Corporation (ESIC), among others.

ThePrint approached Union Labour Secretary Heeralal Samariya through calls and messages, but he declined to comment.

Also read: Giant tech platforms have reduced gig-economy workers to today’s proletariat

More than 50 parliamentary panel recommendations accepted

The CoSS, an amalgamation of nine central labour laws, was introduced in the Lok Sabha in December 2019, and was subsequently referred to the standing committee on labour headed by Biju Janata Dal MP Bhartruhari Mahtab.

ThePrint had reported on 30 July that the parliamentary panel had recommended universalisation of social security coverage to include domestic workers, migrant workers, gig workers, platform workers and agricultural workers.

The panel had recommended that the experience from the migrant crisis that unfolded following the Covid-19 pandemic necessitated that inter-state migrant workers should be mentioned as a separate category in the CoSS, and a welfare fund should be created for them.

The ministry’s proposal is in line with the parliamentary panel’s recommendation of universalisation of social security coverage to those working in the unorganised sectors, such as migrant workers, gig workers and platform workers.

The government has also accepted the recommendation of the parliamentary panel to extend the social security provisions to agricultural workers. It has also expanded the definition of ‘employee’ in the CoSS to include workers who are employed on wages by an establishment either directly or through a contractor.

In all, the labour ministry received 103 recommendations from the parliamentary panel, which reviewed the Code on Social Security. The ministry has accepted 57 of the recommendations fully and 19 partly.

Labour ministry sources said the revised CoSS, once cleared by the cabinet, is likely to come up for passage in the monsoon session of Parliament.

Earlier gratuity payment for journalists

The labour ministry, sources said, has partly accepted the parliamentary committee’s recommendation to reduce the time limit for receiving gratuity payment from continuous service of five years to one year for all kind of employees, including fixed term employees, contract labour, daily and monthly wage workers.

For working journalists, the ministry has reduced the time limit for receiving gratuity payment from five years to three years. For workers under fixed-term employment, the minimum requirement for being eligible for gratuity will be continuous service of one year.

Also read: Uber, Airbnb, WhatsApp all started during a crisis. Startups must be protected during Covid too


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