Labour, Jobs and Employment – Harmonization of labour laws, gender gap, unemployment, etc.

[op-ed snap] The future of work

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing much

Mains level : New economic trends - Employment

Context

Karnataka government will work towards framing guidelines for workers of digital platforms like Uber, Ola, Zomato, Swiggy and UrbanClap. The aim is to ensure all relevant labour benefits for those working in the ‘gig economy’. 

Labour guidelines

    • Karnataka government is following the tone set by the Centre, which proposed a new draft code on social security. 
    • Moves to bring digital labour platforms within the purview of new or existing employment and labour regulations have been missing. 
    • The Karnataka government’s move to add benefits can provide a degree of public welfare assistance to a significant and growing workforce in India.

Role of government

    • The government has the responsibility of ensuring social stability while not creating hurdles for the businesses. 
    • A question remains open — whether Uber drivers are full-time employees of Uber or freelancers.
    • The Ministry’s bid to provide insurance and job security can emerge with direct acknowledgement of the role played by platforms in the city job market.
    • It cannot be achieved by curbing asset-light models or by regulating labour.

Platforms – Employment

    • Platforms provide work to the growing demographic of youth in the country.
    • The manufacturing sector in India is unable to provide employment opportunities to the youth. 
    • There is a mismatch between education and jobs skills in the market. 
    • Governments have also been unable to create viable public work schemes in urban areas for those continuously migrating into cities and towns. 
    • Private tech has been able to do this and the government is aware of its potential.

Role of platforms

    • MoUs signed between platform companies and various State and Central Ministries over the years show that governments have actively invited companies to create work, entrepreneurial opportunities and skill development. 
    • For example, Uber partnered with Ayushman Bharat to facilitate free healthcare for drivers and delivery partners. UrbanClap partnered with the National Urban Livelihoods Mission to generate jobs with minimum assured monthly wages for the urban poor. 
    • In cases of informal jobs where it was difficult to identify workers for whom protection was to be given, platforms became vehicles.

Public Utilities

    • The ecosystem of public policy, platform work, and the government together can suggest an urban ‘Jobs for All’, a financialised employment guarantee scheme. 
    • The work created by these companies could easily be regulated as public goods because it creates mobility and facilitates the movement of goods. 
    • An increasing number of these jobs has been created through incentivised demand using cashback, coupons, low fares, and even free services rather than through natural demand. 
    • Platforms have created public utilities that may not have been needed before via low-skilled and poor quality work, but it is work that brings in some earnings.
    • They have given urban workers a financialised, self-driven, optional economic safety net of ‘having a job, having a gig’.

What it means for the state of employment

    • The ability of labour regulation to push companies to deliver full formal employment in a financialised world of work seems poor. 
    • Platform companies rely on city markets for their workers to populate the platform and to turn a profit just as much as governments look to platforms to generate work opportunities. 
    • The Karnataka Social Welfare Department signed an MoU with Uber last year to create work opportunities for Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe youth.

Conclusion

It could herald a time where platforms can be asked to perform more public functions like implementing a minimum wage.

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