Standing Committee on Labour calls for social protection of unorganised-sector workers

The Committee suggests expanding the definition of platform and gig workers to include the new and emerging forms of jobs and activities in the labour market

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The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Labour, submitted its report on Code on Social Security, 2019, with recommendations for social protection of those working in the unorganised sector, including gig workers.

Among other things, the Committee has recommended that the time limit for payment of gratuity to employees, following termination of employment, should be reduced to one year of continuous service, from the current five years. The Committee suggests that gratuity be paid to all categories of employees, including contract labourers, seasonal workers, piece rate workers, fixed-term employees and daily/monthly wage workers.

The definitions of gig workers and platform workers, the Committee suggests, should be widened so that the various emerging and novel forms of labour-market activities can be included. It advocates a composite and uniform scheme, instead of different schemes for each state, to bring about more uniformity; and such a composite scheme should cover education, health, social security, old age, disability pension and other relevant issues of the workers. If the areas of notification of schemes are clearly defined and demarcated for the Central and state governments, there will be no overlap or duplication.

The Bill, it is suggested, should set up a social-security fund for the unorganised-sector workers, clearly defining what the contributions of the Central and state governments, as well as the employers and employees will be.

This Fund should focus on hospitalisation, health insurance, life insurance and old- age pension for those in the unorganised sector.

Considering the recent migration of workers, during the lockdown, the Committee has also called for a database of unorganised-sector workers, at the national level. Such a national-level database will ensure that the workers continue to receive benefits from the schemes they are covered under, even if they migrate from one state to another. If the database is linked technologically with the database of all self-employed workers, construction labourers and even street vendors, then the moment they change their location, the database will automatically update the details.

It has been suggested that the Employees’ Provident Funds and Miscellaneous Provisions Act should be made applicable to all workers, even the self-employed.

The Code on Social Security, 2019, which was introduced in the Lok Sabha in December, 2019, will consolidate and replace nine laws related to social security and related issues.

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