From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Gig economy, Platform-Based Gig Workers Welfare Board
Mains level : Gig economy, Rajasthan's Platform-Based Gig Workers Welfare Board, challenges and measures for implementation
- The Chief Minister of Rajasthan recently announced the establishment of India’s first welfare fund, the Rajasthan Platform-Based Gig Workers Social Security and Welfare Fund. This landmark move comes as a significant regulatory step to address the vulnerabilities faced by gig and platform workers since the passage of the Code on Social Security in 2020.
All you need to know about Platform-Based Gig Workers Social Security and Welfare Fund
- Social security and welfare benefits to gig workers: It is the country’s first welfare fund specifically designed to address the social security needs of gig and platform workers established by the government of Rajasthan. The fund aims to provide social security benefits and welfare measures to gig workers who operate in the platform economy.
- Set up in accordance with the Code on Social Security 2020: Code on Social Security recognizes the vulnerabilities faced by gig and platform workers and emphasizes the need for social security measures to protect their rights and well-being. The creation of the welfare fund aligns with the code’s objective of extending social security coverage to workers in the informal sector.
- Operates as a tripartite institution: The Platform-Based Gig Workers Social Security and Welfare Fund operates as a tripartite institution, comprising representatives from the bureaucracy, employers or clients, and workers’ unions or associations. This structure enables the fund to effectively address the concerns and interests of all stakeholders involved.
- Funding through revenue-sharing model: The Code on Social Security mandates that platform companies contribute 1%-2% of their revenue towards the fund, ensuring that the financial responsibility is shared between the platforms and the government.
Who are known as Gig Workers?
- Gig workers are individuals who engage in temporary, flexible, and on-demand work arrangements, often facilitated through digital platforms or apps.
- They are part of the gig economy, which is characterized by short-term and project-based work engagements rather than traditional long-term employment contracts.
- Gig workers encompass a wide range of occupations and industries. They may include freelance writers, drivers for ride-hailing services, delivery personnel, online marketplace sellers, virtual assistants, graphic designers, and many others.
- These workers typically operate as independent contractors, offering their services or completing tasks on a project-by-project basis.
Potential challenges in program implementation
- Lack of Clarity in Definitions: The classification and definition of gig workers can vary, making it challenging to accurately identify and include all eligible individuals in the programs. Determining the scope and coverage of the programs can be complex, especially considering the diverse nature of gig work.
- Funding Constraints: Allocating sufficient funds for the implementation of social security programs for gig workers can be a significant challenge. Adequate resources need to be allocated to ensure the sustainability of the programs and the provision of comprehensive benefits. Identifying the appropriate funding mechanisms, such as revenue-sharing models or contributions from platforms, can be complex and require careful consideration.
- Limited Awareness and Outreach: Many gig workers may be unaware of their rights or the existence of social security programs available to them. Effective outreach and awareness campaigns are crucial to ensure that gig workers understand the benefits and are encouraged to participate. Language barriers, digital literacy issues, and the dispersed nature of gig workers can further complicate outreach efforts.
- Adapting to Technological Platforms: Implementing social security programs within the digital platforms that facilitate gig work can pose technical challenges. Integration with existing platform systems, ensuring secure data management, and addressing potential privacy concerns require careful planning and coordination between government agencies and platform operators.
- Addressing Cross-Jurisdictional Issues: Gig workers often operate across multiple jurisdictions, which can create complexities in program implementation. Coordination among different states or countries may be required to ensure seamless coverage and avoid gaps or duplications in benefits.
- Establishing Fair Evaluation Criteria: Determining eligibility criteria and evaluating gig workers’ contributions or income can be challenging. Traditional methods of assessing employment status or income may not align with the dynamic and variable nature of gig work. Developing fair and transparent evaluation mechanisms is crucial to ensure that deserving gig workers receive the appropriate benefits.
- Balancing Flexibility and Protection: Gig work is characterized by its flexibility, allowing workers to choose when and how much they work. Designing social security programs that provide necessary protections while still accommodating the flexible nature of gig work can be a delicate balance. Ensuring that gig workers can access benefits without compromising their work arrangements is essential.
Measures to overcome operational challenges
- Comprehensive Outreach and Awareness Campaigns: Launch targeted and extensive awareness campaigns to inform gig workers about the available social security programs, their benefits, and the application process. Utilize multiple communication channels, including online platforms, mobile apps, social media, and community networks, to reach a wide range of gig workers.
- Simplified Registration and Enrollment Processes: Streamline the registration and enrollment processes to make them user-friendly and accessible to gig workers. Utilize digital platforms and mobile applications to enable easy and convenient enrollment, reducing paperwork and administrative burdens.
- Partnerships with Platforms: Collaborate with platform operators to facilitate program implementation. Platforms can play a crucial role in sharing information, reaching out to gig workers, and integrating social security features directly into their platforms. Establish clear guidelines and expectations for platform operators to ensure compliance and seamless integration of social security measures.
- Tailored Benefit Packages: Design benefit packages that cater to the specific needs of gig workers. Consider their income volatility, irregular work schedules, and diverse occupational risks when determining the types of benefits to offer. Flexibility and customization in benefit packages can help address the unique challenges faced by gig workers.
- Digital Solutions and Technology Integration: Leverage digital solutions and emerging technologies to streamline processes, enhance efficiency, and improve service delivery. Utilize digital platforms for benefits management, payment systems, and claims processing to ensure a seamless and user-friendly experience for gig workers.
- Collaborative Governance: Establish tripartite partnerships involving government authorities, gig worker representatives, and platform operators to foster effective governance and decision-making. This collaborative approach ensures that the perspectives and interests of all stakeholders are taken into account and promotes transparency and accountability.
- Continuous Monitoring and Evaluation: Implement robust monitoring and evaluation mechanisms to assess the effectiveness and impact of social security programs for gig workers. Regularly collect feedback from gig workers, platform operators, and other stakeholders to identify areas for improvement and make necessary adjustments to the programs.
- International Collaboration and Knowledge Sharing: Engage in international collaboration and knowledge sharing to learn from best practices and experiences of other countries implementing social security measures for gig workers. Exchange ideas, strategies, and lessons learned to enhance program implementation and overcome operational challenges.
Facts for prelims
|New classification by NITI Aayog: Platform vs. Non-platform Workers
- The establishment of the Rajasthan Platform-Based Gig Workers Welfare Board represents a significant victory for platform workers and unions who have long advocated for their rights. While many states are yet to take action, Rajasthan sets an example by prioritizing the welfare of these workers, especially with assembly elections looming next year.