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How social security measures can help gig economy grow faster

Labour market has been through a roller coaster ride in the last two years. From working from home to great resignations to great attrition; labour market is going through a transition. Against this backdrop, Niti Aayog’s report titled ‘India’s Booming Gig and Platform Economy’ is both relevant and timely.

How social security measures can help gig economy grow faster
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How social security measures can help gig economy grow faster

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Labour market has been through a roller coaster ride in the last two years. From working from home to great resignations to great attrition; labour market is going through a transition. Against this backdrop, Niti Aayog's report titled 'India's Booming Gig and Platform Economy' is both relevant and timely. The report has some interesting insights. It said that rapid increase in digitalisation and low entry barriers for gig and platform workers will lead to surge in gig jobs in coming years. It estimates that the number of gig workers will swell to 23.5 million by 2029-30 from 7.7 million in 2020-21. Overall, the number of gig workers now contribute 1.5 per cent of India's total workforce from 1.3 per cent earlier. The report pointed out that retail trade and sales sector with 2.7 million workers is the largest employer of gig workers in India. This shows tectonic shift in the Indian labour market. Indian workers are slowly shifting to gig jobs with professionals joining the race.

Out of 7.7 million workers, 22 per cent workers are highly-skilled ones while 47 per cent are involved in low-skilled jobs. Though high skilled professionals working as freelancers and independent workers are low in number, the Covid seems to have prompted many professionals to chart their own path than opting for traditional employer-employee relationship. These statistics indicate that Indian economy is formalising at a faster rate. Earlier, there were no data points regarding people working as independent workers like plumbers or carpenters and many more such jobs. However, emergence of many digital platforms that work as market place for many such workers has changed the landscape now. Now, the government has reliable data points on many blue collar job workers as startups provide employment opportunities for these people through their apps.

Meanwhile, the think tank's proposal for gig and platform firms to embrace policies that provide retirement plans and benefits and other insurance cover for contingencies like as injury arising from work that may lead to loss of employment and income is a welcome move. Niti Aayog report suggested that companies can offer customised insurance solutions in collaboration with insurance companies and the government. Currently, gig workers don't have any social protection unlike many other counties like United Kingdom. The government think tank is of the opinion that social protection measures such as insurance and leave will help in the growth of overall gig economy.

With emergence of many digital platforms with technology becoming great enabler, many employees are slowly drifting away from formal job market. Ecommerce platforms, apps for blue collar jobs, software coding platforms, and many more digital platforms are facilitating this trend. As the current trend seems irreversible, it will work in favour of the Indian economy if these workers come under some kind of social security net. This will enable a sustainable growth of this segment. Most experts are of the opinion that the contribution of gig economy is set to rise in coming years as fomalisation of economy gathers pace. So, some social security provisions will be a win-win situation for all stakeholders.

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