Rajasthan’s move spells some hope for gig workers

Source: The post is based on the article “Rajasthan’s move spells some hope for gig workers” published in The Hindu on 17th May 2023

What is the News?

Rajasthan Government has announced that it would introduce the Rajasthan Platform-based Gig Workers (Registration and Welfare) Bill 2023 aimed at the regulation of the gig economy in the state.

What is the Rajasthan Platform-based Gig Workers (Registration and Welfare) Bill 2023?

Aim: To ensure the welfare of gig workers and introduce strict provisions to punish errant aggregators.

Key Provisions of the Bill:

Platform-based Gig Workers Welfare Board: The board will be chaired by the state Labour minister, and will have representatives from gig workers’ unions, aggregators, and members of civil society.

– The Board would be responsible for developing welfare policies and hearing the grievances of workers who had been hired on a piece-rate basis, i.e. payment depending on the units of work performed.

– All platform-based workers in the state would be automatically registered with the Board regardless of their employment period with the respective platform.

– A unique ID with a three-year validity would be generated by the Board for each worker registered with one or more aggregators in the state.

– This would help workers obtain benefits from government welfare schemes such as the PM Sambhal scheme, which provided old age pensions, and also enabled them to lodge complaints over payment disputes and other issues.

Penal action: The bill also states that if the aggregators contravene any of the provisions made by the Board, they will have to pay a fine of Rs 10 lakh or can be suspended or prevented from functioning within Rajasthan. 

Welfare Fund: The bill has proposed to set up a Rajasthan Platform-Based Gig Workers Social Security and Welfare Fund, which will start with seed money of ₹200 crores.

Cess: The bill makes mention of a cess, which would be a percent of the total value paid from the consumer to the aggregator or primary employer. It states that the levy percentage will be decided by the Board. 

What are the challenges ahead?

Worker boards in India have been thought of as a way to build long-term relationships between workers and the state apart from their more operational role in creating a tripartite forum and implementing schemes. 

There has been a lot of criticism against the construction board — that it does not provide benefits that are useful enough to offset the time, money and other resources workers have to spend in order to register and access benefits. 

Time will tell how a Gig and Platform Worker Board will fare when gig and platform workers are time-poor considering that they often work for piece-meal wages that are structured through hourly or daily time commitments to platforms.

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