Gig Workers Bill: reading between the lines

Source: The post is based on the article “Gig Workers Bill: reading between the lines” published in The Hindu on 30th August 2023.

Syllabus: GS2- Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation. & GS3- Employment

News: The article talks about Rajasthan government’s bill to give social security to gig workers. It mentions problems with definitions, rules, and how it’s done, which could make it less effective in protecting workers.

What are the provisions of the Rajasthan Platform-Based Gig Workers (Registration and Welfare) Bill, 2023?

Read here: Rajasthan Platform-Based Gig Workers (Registration and Welfare) Bill, 2023

What are the issues with the Rajasthan Platform-Based Gig Workers (Registration and Welfare) Bill, 2023?

  1. Ambiguous Definitions: The Bill’s definitions for “gig worker” and “aggregator” are unclear. This uncertainty means aggregators might not treat gig workers as employees.
  2. Exclusion from Labour Laws: Because the Bill doesn’t label gig workers as employees, they might miss out on benefits from existing labour laws. In 2022, major Indian platforms scored zero in Fairwork India ratings, showcasing the gap in worker benefits.
  3. Database Issues: The Bill suggests a permanent gig workers’ database. Yet, it doesn’t address the changing nature of their jobs. There’s no protection against platforms using this data to possibly limit worker opportunities, especially those working for multiple platforms.
  4. Undefined Social Security: The Bill wants to offer social security via a welfare board but doesn’t specify what this entails. Decisions are left to the board, raising concerns about the dominant say of powerful platform representatives versus worker representatives.

This Bill, despite its good intentions, has potential pitfalls that may hinder its success in protecting gig workers.

What should be done?

Clearer Definitions: Reframe definitions to specify the roles of “gig worker” and “aggregator”, possibly aligning with global standards like California’s ABC Test or the U.K.’s Uber driver classification.

Integrate Labour Laws: Amend the Bill to ensure gig workers are entitled to benefits under existing labour laws. Use the Fairwork India 2022 ratings as a benchmark to elevate worker rights.

Flexible Database: Revise the database proposal to account for the dynamic nature of gig work. Implement data privacy measures to prevent misuse, especially for workers on multiple platforms.

Specify Social Security: Clearly outline what constitutes “social security”. Instead of solely relying on the welfare board, draw inspiration from laws in Australia and New Zealand that focus on worker safety without rigid “employer-employee” terms.

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