Gig workers suffer from lack of social security, regulations: Study

News Excerpt:

A recently published study recommended stronger social security for app-based workers and called on the government to exercise oversight on the fairness of algorithms and mechanisms used by platforms to monitor such workers.

Key highlights:

  • The study was conducted by the People’s Association in Grassroots Action and Movements, and the Indian Federation of App-based Transport Workers, with technical support from the University of Pennsylvania and Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung India, a German foundation.
  • Low pay, long hours:
    • The study report says that over 43% of participants in the study earn less than ₹500 a day or ₹15,000 a month, after deducting all their costs. 
    • The study found that 34% of app-based delivery persons earn less than ₹10,000 a month, while 78% of them are spending over 10 hours each day at work.
    • It added that 41% of the drivers said they are unable to take even a single day off in a week; 48% of delivery persons too reported their inability to take a weekly off. Less than 37% of the drivers said they belonged to a union.
    • Due to the demanding work hours, the study found that drivers are physically exhausted, and exposed to an increased risk of road traffic accidents, especially due to the ‘10-minute delivery at the doorstep’ policy of certain e-commerce platforms. The report said that 86% of delivery persons found such policies “completely unacceptable”. 
      • The lack of social and job security creates additional stress and leads to potential health issues.
  • Expenses exceed earnings
    • While 72% of the cab drivers said that they face difficulty in managing expenses, 76% of the delivery persons are struggling to make their ends meet. 68% of cab drivers' responses even show that their overall expenses exceed their earnings, which indicate how a vast number of app-based workers could be in debt-like situations, the report said, urging better compensation and support for these workers.
  • Customer misbehaviour
    • Another major complaint of the workers is the issue of ID deactivation and customer misbehaviour. 
      • A glaring 83% of the drivers reported that the issue of ID blocking affects them negatively, 47% stated that this issue extremely affects them. 
      • In the case of delivery persons, this percentage is even higher at 87%. 
      • Customer behaviour affects a significant majority (72%) of drivers in a negative way, while 68% of delivery persons are reportedly affected by it negatively.

What is the gig economy?

  • A gig economy is a free market system in which temporary positions are common and organizations hire independent workers for short-term commitments. The term "gig" is a slang word for a job that lasts a specified period of time. Traditionally, the term was used by musicians to define a performance engagement.
  • Examples of gig workers include freelancers, independent contractors, project-based workers and temporary or part-time hires. Gig apps and digital technology are often used to connect customers and gig workers.

Who is part of the gig economy?

  • The gig economy is made up of companies, workers and consumers. All gig workers aren't the same. They include the following:
    • Freelancers who get paid per task.
    • Independent contractors who perform work and get paid on a contract-to-contract basis.
    • Project-based workers who get paid by the project.
    • Temporary hires who are employed for a fixed amount of time.
    • Part-time workers who work less than full-time hours.

Related News: Survey of gig workers paints a picture of poor working conditions and low pay

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