Gig, plantation and platform workers will be provided insurance benefits by ESIC and made a part of India’s social security scheme
In an unprecedented move, the gig work ecosystem is set to receive a much-needed fillip as the gig workers may soon receive insurance cover. The Employees’ State Insurance Corporation (ESIC), which is the state-run health insurance and social security scheme for Indian workers, is likely to provide insurance benefits to all the eligible workers that are part of the gig work economy.
The decision comes as part of the 2019 Social Security Code Bill, which was cleared by the Union Cabinet recently. The Bill will include gig, plantation and platform workers, with the plantation workers also becoming a part of the ESIC for the very first time. The concept of gig work revolves around professionals who work in a free-market system and online jobs for agencies and corporations for a fixed duration. The tenure of their engagement with their organizations is usually for a very short term, depending on the scope of work.
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The gig workers get paid only for the amount of work they deliver and do not get any additional benefits. With the new initiative of the Government of India, gig workers can rejoice as this could be the first step of the government towards realizing and honoring their work. The Bill also has a provision where smaller companies employing a minimum of 10 workers must provide benefits applicable under the ESI law.
The Bill has also modified the 1970 Payment of Gratuity Act where workers – permanent, temporary, contractual or casual – were not eligible for gratuity before completing five years of service in a particular organization. According to the amendment, all the above workers will become eligible for gratuity before completing five years in any organization.
According to a study titled, ‘Professional Gig Economy 2018-19 Report Card’, which was carried out by Flexing It, a gig work platform, the gig economy is on the course of becoming a vital aspect of India Inc’s strategy. In 2018-19, there were 72 percent gig work projects in professional services firms and large corporations, which was a 20 percent increase in the numbers of the past two years. The report also stated that the gig work economy has seen significant growth as most of its segments have doubled their growth over the past two years.
Here are some of the other key statistics of the report that compares data of 2018-19 with that of the past two years. The data is based on inputs from 2000 organizations that hired gig workers for work from home jobs or on-site jobs.
- Professional services firms have replaced start-ups at the number one spot and around 45 per cent of the talent is acquired by them as compared to 30 percent two years back.
- The share of large corporations has dropped to 22 percent from 27, nonetheless, they are a vital segment that hires gig workers.
- Strategy, technology and marketing are the top functions that made up half of the freelance jobs in 2018-19.
- More than two-thirds of the projects were of less than six months long in duration, as companies hired gig workers on a short-term, need basis.
With the Indian gig work ecosystem on the rise, getting recognition and benefits from state-run entities will only pave way for a better future for the gig workers. In the coming years, more such benefits can be expected which could protect the interests of the Indian gig workers and put them at par with their western counterparts.
- For the very first time, gig workers may be eligible for insurance cover, HRK News Bureau 6 December 2019
- How gig economy is becoming a key part of India Inc’s strategy, Saumya Bhattacharya, 13 August 2019