Gig workers are seeing improvement in terms of fair pay but work flexibility in gig economy comes at a cost, a report has said.
According to a report by Fairwork India, while some gig platforms are paying minimum wage to its employee partners, as far as work flexibility for employees is concerned, citing things like no specific work hours and incentives may not be enough.
The report examined the working conditions of platform workers on digital platforms in India. It evaluates 12 platforms offering location-based services in sectors such as domestic and personal care, logistics, food delivery, e-pharmacy, and transportation, in India.
The report - by Fairwork India along with the centre for IT and public policy (Citapp), the international institute of information technology Bangalore (IIIT-B) - undertook interviews with gig workers as part of their research and analyzed 12 major platforms including Amazon Flex, BigBasket, Dunzo, Flipkart, Ola, PharmEasy, Porter, Swiggy, Uber, Urban Company, Zepto, and Zomato.
“The promise of flexibility in the digital platform economy raises as many questions about livelihoods as it offers opportunities. Through the report, we try to provide an interpretation of flexibility that allows for not merely the adaptability that platforms seek, but also the income and social security that workers lack", said Balaji Parthasarathy and Janaki Srinivasan, the principal investigators involved in the report.
The platforms in the report were the assessed basis of criteria like minimum pay, working conditions, access to clear terms and conditions before signing up, grievance redressal & management, along with representation of the workers.
Amongst all the key metrics used in the report, some companies have taken steps to introduce policies that satisfy some of the criteria mentioned in the report. Companies like Flipkart, Urban Company and BigBasket have as per the report been ensuring that hourly local minimum wage after work-related costs is being paid to the gig workers.
However, the report stated that none of the 12 companies showed a willingness to recognise a collective body of workers.
The legal position concerning the social security provisions for gig workers is currently ambiguous as well. The Code on Social Security, 2020, and the Motor Vehicle Aggregator guidelines, 2020 both of which regulate the conditions of platform workers, await enforcement. The Digital Personal Data Protection Bill, 2022, which is likely to have repercussions for the data collected from platform workers, is yet to be passed by Parliament.
The findings of the report come at a time when gig work in India is seen to grow rapidly with a substantial rise in demand for gig workers which has also prompted recruitment firms and gig platforms to expand their teams and add verticals focusing on specific gigs.