ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Labour Laws for Gig Workers in the Context of Labour Law Reforms

In an attempt to incorporate the doctrine of universalisation of social security, the gig workers are brought into the ambit of the labour laws for the first time, with the provision of some welfare measures under the Code on Social Security, 2020. The three other codes are silent on the policies towards gig workers. While the codes are yet to be implemented, there are many questions pertaining to the clarity of the codes and how to implement them effectively to meet the intended objectives.

The article is the outcome and part of a major research project titled “Potential, Impact, and Regulations in the Context of Sharing Economies” funded to the first author by the Indian Council of Social Science Research (ICSSR), New Delhi. The authors are thankful for the grant and also to the Amrita University for all the support. They are also very grateful to the anonymous referee for their valuable comments that helped them improve the draft.

Across countries, attempts are made to modify labour laws to accommodate the new class of gig workers who emerged with the rise of digitally enabled platforms. The gig economy, which came into being sometime during the 2000s, brought higher flexibility to the labour market. While the size of the gig workforce is on a sharp rise, policymakers have been finding it hard to classify these workers under the existing labour laws to regulate their functioning and relationships with the businesses they are engaged in. The gig economy in India is fast growing at a compound annual growth rate of 17% and currently stands at around 15 million, whereas in countries like the United States (US), it has already surged, with 36% of the workforce engaged in it (ASSOCHAM 2021). Predicting this class of workers to be predominant in tomorrows labour force, it is essential for the policymakers to reach a clear understanding of their nature and functioning for arriving at regulations.

The recently drafted labour codes in India bring the gig workers into the ambit of the labour laws for the first time, providing for some clauses intended to enhance their welfare. Elsewhere too, in the developed economies, issues relating to this form of labour have not been sufficiently addressed (Collier et al 2017). This article tries to explore how the earlier literature has defined and classified the gig workers, the nature of their relationship with the businesses they are engaged in and how the laws elsewhere, especially in the developed countries, have attempted to deal with the challenges. The study critically unfolds the ideological debate on freedom versus precarity associated with the nature of contractual relations of gig workers with their business partners. The article further explores how the new labour codes treat the gig workers and what measures are taken to address their welfare in India.

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Published On : 20th Jan, 2024

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