gig economy

For some time now, workers in the temporary job economy have been complaining about unfair practices. It was convenient for employers to address their concerns, but most companies ignored the demands. One big player claimed that its business model would collapse if workers’ demands were met. However, in a commendable initiative, The Urban Company (UC) has risen to the plate to address complaints from its beauty service partners (BSPs). These include unfair penalties, account bans, product pricing and alleged high commissions. If someone checked the 12-point UC note against the 13 requests raised regarding commissions, penalties, ratings, worker safety and Basic Social Security, the majority were processed.

The company reduced commissions charged for top-tier beauty services from 30% to 25% and allowed partners to cancel “no penalty, no-show” and “no penalty” cancellations 12 hours in advance per month. Moreover, it has extended free vaccination support until December 31. The rating system has been changed as have the fallout. UC also said the cancellation fee, which is charged by the customer, will be transferred entirely to the service partner. While the company’s practices were clearly not of the highest standard, it is trustworthy that management stepped forward to meet the demands of the workers.

Tilman Erbeck of Flourish Ventures highlighted just how vulnerable workers in the temporary labor economy are. Erbeck has found that Indian job workers are the hardest hit by the pandemic. 90% of them were earning less than 15,000 rupees per month as of August 2020. While a large number – 83% – were able to utilize their savings and 42% received government assistance in some form, 47% of these workers were not yet able To cover their expenses without borrowing.

The Indian business economy model is fairly new and as a part of the e-commerce industry, it has only been in India for about 13 years. As TN Hari, Head of Human Resources at BigBasket points out, the model has already done well for Indian workers as it has provided existing ‘industrial’ services, including beauty salons and plumbers. However, as he also points out, with the unprecedented growth of the industry, there are more and more responsibilities on their shoulders, which can lead to hasty and unrealistic regulations.

However, as a model employing 15 million workers as of August 2021 and creating 56% of new jobs, it requires attention to ensure fair treatment of workers. The main problem arises when the status of these workers is questioned, because they are not on the company’s payroll, but they are not considered unorganized workers either. According to the PIL submitted by the Indian Federation of Application-Based Transport Workers (IFAT) in September, gig workers must be considered unorganized workers so that they can enjoy the protections offered under the Unorganized Workers Social Security Act (UWSS). The government is working to help these workers. Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, in his FY21 budget speech, announced the extension of social security benefits to these workers; However, the changes to the Social Security Act 2020, have yet to be implemented, although 15 countries have prepared draft rules. Those working on the platform and gig can register on the e-Shram portal.

The government is also considering bringing platform and party jobs workers to work under the scope of ESIC – the state employee insurance company. Even with the government doing its part, employers must also share a greater share of their profits with their employees and compensate them appropriately for the long working hours and the inconveniences they sometimes face. They should take a paper from the University of California book.

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