The Gig Economy is Here to Stay. It is Time to Formalize and Regularize It.
With more than 40% of the total workforce engaged in part time or gig work, it is high time governments worldwide took steps to mainstream them and their occupation. This can take the form of allowing Labor Unions for Gig Workers, providing them with healthcare and social security benefits, and fixing minimum wages that are legally mandated. In addition, developing countries can take additional steps such as recognizing Gig Workers as full time occupation professionals and extending the protections that are available to workers and professionals in the Formal Economy such as No Hire and Fire at Will etc.
While there are many such proposals before policymakers in various countries, it is a fact that they have not translated into concrete policy initiatives which would ease the lives of Gig Workers. For instance, India is yet to come out with a comprehensive policy or law on regulating the Gig Economy with the result that the sector resembles a Slave Shop at the moment. Not only are Gig Workers being forced to work longer hours for less pay, they are also being denied even the basic and rudimentary protections that workers in the Formal Economy enjoy such as Barring Layoffs at Will as well as minimum wage laws.
Moreover, despite this Year’s Budget recognizing Gig Work as an occupation, in many cases, there are no proper statistics as to how many Indians are into Gig Work and whether they are dispersed or concentrated in many or few sectors. Of course, it is not always easy counting the numbers of Gig Workers as due to the Fungible nature of the occupation, movement between Gig Work and Full Time work as well between Jobs in Gig Economy firms and Formal Full Time work makes it difficult to be precise about their numbers and other employment statistics that are necessary for any Census type of Enumeration.
As the cliche goes, You Cannot Measure What You Cannot Count, which means that extending subsidies and other incentives to Gig Workers becomes difficult in the absence of any concrete statistics. This is something that is not that much of a problem in the West, where the Labor Bureaus Monthly and Quarterly Payroll Data often captures all types of employment. Therefore, the need of the hour in developing countries such as India, is to first record…