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The Changed Labour Laws With Special Focus On How It Would Impact Platform Workers And The Gig Economy

I don't believe in a law to prevent a man from getting rich; it would do more harm than good. So while we do not propose any war upon capital, we do wish to allow the humblest men an equal chance to get rich with everybody else.~ Abraham Lincoln

Introduction
Labour Laws are the laws that regulate labours in India. Labour laws fall under the category of Concurrent List (7th Schedule), therefore both Center and States frame laws in this subject. There are around 40 central laws and 100 state laws in this regard.

Recent labour includes four codes:
  1. The Code on Wages, 2019
  2. The Industrial Relations Code, 2020
  3. The Code on Social Security, 2020 &
  4. The Occupational Safety Health and Working Conditions Code, 2020
Additionally, the definitions of platform, gig and migrant workers are prescribed in the above mentioned codes.

Objective of Labour Reforms
  • The most important objective for introducing these reforms was to simplify and modernize the labour regulations.
  • To curb the overlapping laws at central level as those codes have subsumed 29 central labour laws.
  • To facilitate employment growth while protecting worker's rights.
  • To ease the way of doing business in India.
  • To promote the mechanism of single license.

Analysis of the Labor Reform Bills
  • The Code on Social Security, 2020 intends to provide for universal social security to all workers including the unorganised, gig and platform workers. Definition of platform and gig workers is prescribed in this code.
  • Platform Workers - A person engaged in or undertaking platform work. e.g. Ola, Uber, Zomato, Swiggy.
  • Gig Workers - A person who performs work or participates in a work arrangement and earns from such activities outside the traditional employer - employee relationship.
  • The gig economy concept allows students to take up jobs at an early age and get exposure in their respective fields.
  • This code proposes the formation of the National Social Security Board, which shall recommend the Central Government for formulating suitable schemes for different sections of unorganised, gig and platform workers.
It also provides that the aggregators employing gig workers will have to contribute 1-2% of the annual turnover for social security.

Impact on Platform & Gig Workers
The impact can be classified into Positive and Negative.


Positive Impact
  • Introduction of fixed term employment
  • Welfare benefits for migrant, platform and gig workers are introduced.
  • Extension of social security scheme to unorganizsed, gig and platform workers.
  • Recognition is generated to platform and gig workers.
  • They will also be provided with social security through various schemes
  • The platform and gig worker will be eligible for certain benefits like maternity leave, old age protection etc.
  • Simplification of archive laws dealing with industrial disputes and introduction of revampent adjudication processes which pave the way for early regulation of disputes.
Negative Impact
  • Overlapping and ambiguous definitions are prescribed of these terms unorganised, gig and platform workers
  • Benefits provided under social security code can be claimed by platform workers but no labour rights can be claimed.
  • Terms and conditions are applied for eligibility for Government schemes which implies that these benefits are not guaranteed.

Covid-19 and Platform Workers
Role of platform workers during this pandemic cannot be left unnoticed. Platform workers performed the delivery of essential services during the pandemic to an extent. They kept the platform companies in dispute against the pandemic induced financial crisis.
e.g. Zomato, Swiggy etc.
  • The recent Logistic Industry in India comprises inbound and outbound sectors of the production and services supply chains.
Conclusion
Indian labour laws were in dire need of developments and introduction of new labour reform in 2019 & 2020 made this development possible. The impact of changed labour laws are platform workers and the gig economy is a mixed era, neither aptly positive nor negative.

Although new labour laws have some loopholes which need the attention of the authorities, it could be a game changer too if it succeeds in accomplishing its objection. This would lead to provide better work opportunities to students and would promote them to take up non-regular jobs in the market.

Written By: Shashwata Sahu, Advocate
, LLM, KIIT School of Law

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