Raw Deal!! Why Gig Workers/Freelancers Need Better Wages, Protections, And Recognition — Springfields of Rejuvenation
The gig economy is here to stay. With an estimated 15 Million gig workers in India, it is high time the government started to nudge gig economy firms to extend some sort of “protection” in the form of health insurance and social security (provident fund etc) as well as push gig economy firms to fix basic wages in line with global standards. With low pay, more deductions in the name of commissions, and an absolute lack of any “insurance” (literally as well as figuratively) for the gig workers, they are getting a “raw deal” and this is something that the Central, as well as State governments, have to act upon and legislate minimum wages and other such protections that formal economy workers are covered under.
Globally, there is increasing recognition of “gig work” as standard work and gig workers are treated just like formal economy workers. Of course, these recognitions have not come by automatically and it was only through sustained action, including Class Action Lawsuits in the United States that resulted in gig workers being deemed to be worthy of protections that are normally accorded to formal and informal economy workers. The usage of both formal and informal economy firms is deliberate as in India, with the present laws, the least that the government can do is to at least ensure that gig workers are treated as informal economy workers with rudimentary protections.
There are any number of reasons why gig workers need to be extended benefits much like their counterparts in full-time occupations. For one, t he informal and the gig economy are where the jobs are and are also being created in record numbers and so, any attempt to address India’s gargantuan jobs crisis should start with encouraging more gig work and informal economy work. Such hiring and job creation in these segments would happen only where the gig workers are incentivized to take up gig work and more importantly, stay and stick to such work. Basic pay and regulated minimum wages, as well as mandated wages for the different types of gigs combined with decent working conditions and legally, provided days off and leaves would go a long way in ensuring a productive and engaged gig worker participation in the gig economy.