New Delhi: The labour ministry may soon include gig workers under the existing social security schemes of the government, which would make them eligible for pension and medical benefits. The inclusion in the existing social security schemes would benefit millions of gig workers associated with delivery startups such as Zomato and Swiggy or driver-partners for Ola and Uber and other e-commerce giants such as Amazon and Flipkart.
Large number of these workers are among the millions of unorganised workers who lost jobs during the nationwide lockdown imposed from March 25 to prevent the spread of Covid-19. A senior government official told ET that there are existing pension and health benefits available under the Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation, the Employees State Insurance Corporation and the Ayushman Bharat schemes of the government.
“There is no need for a separate scheme for gig workers. We may provide them social security under the existing schemes,” the official quoted above said, adding even the scope of ShramYogi Maandhan Scheme may be extended to provide them with pension benefits. The government is working out the details of contribution to be made by the worker, employer, the Centre and the states so as the cost is shared by all since the Centre cannot entirely fund any social security scheme.
A dedicated gig worker fund will be set up under the existing schemes to provide the benefits. This follows feedback from the standing committee on labour, which had on July 31 pointed out at the missing intent of the government towards universalisation of social security, absence of any legal framework for an integrated rights-based social security in India and lack of indicated expenditure and source of revenue for running the social security scheme.
Besides, it had urged the labour ministry to include unemployment insurance as part of the code for the unorganised workers so that unprecedented labour market situations can be taken care of. The bill, which had provided for a social security scheme for gig workers, is likely to be tabled in the Parliament soon after which the scheme will be notified.