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Labour Ministry invites consultation on rules for social security benefits for gig, platform workers

The government has invited public comments for draft rules on how gig workers and platform workers will be given benefits under the Code on Social Security, 2020, which was passed in September. The draft rules lay out the formation of a National Social Security Board for Gig Workers and Platform Workers and solidifies the mandatory registration with Aadhaar which it has briefly indicated in the law. The ministry said it has already “initiated action” for a website for Aadhaar-based registration of workers. 

The Code on Social Security for the first time recognised the gig economy — gig workers, platform workers, and aggregators, and made space for their benefits around life and disability cover, accident insurance, health and maternity benefits, etc. Aggregators such as Zomato, Uber, and Ola, will have to contribute between 1–2% of their annual turnover to such social security funds for workers, this amount will be capped at 5% of the total amount payable to gig workers and platform workers.

The Union Labour Ministry notified the draft rules in the gazette on Friday (November 13) inviting comments for 45 days thereon. This should be until December 28. It’s worth noting that under the code, the government has to make draft rules public for 45 days before issuing it in the Official Gazette, except in case of a pandemic [Section 158].  

Mandatory registration with Aadhaar

Gig workers and platform workers aged between 16 and 60 years, who have been engaged for at least 90 days with an aggregator during the preceding year, will be eligible for benefits. The central government can further notify the specific conditions for eligibility as deemed fit. 

Under the draft rules, every gig worker and platform worker has to register either with Aadhaar or on self-declaration (of their details) on a central government portal. Once registered, a worker will be issued an acknowledgement, which can be electronic, bearing his “Unique Registration Number”. Once this is issued, the workers have to authenticate themselves via Aadhaar “as per procedure specified by the Central government”. 

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To avail benefits, the workers will also have to register on the central government portal with some details (which the government will specify). They have to provide details including address, current occupation, duration of engagement with concerned platforms or aggregators, mobile number, their skill or other particulars on the portal. Without this updated information, workers will not be eligible for benefits, the rules say. Charges for such registration or updating “may be borne” by the central government, or aggregators, or by the gig and platform workers themselves, either partly or fully “as may be specified by the Central government”. 

Each aggregator will share the monthly details of their gig workers or platform workers electronically in order to generate Unique Registration Number or temporary registration number on the central government portal. They also have to “link their database” with the unique registration number issued “to facilitate registration” of their gig and platform workers on the central government portal.

Collecting funds for gig and platform workers

Under the code, aggregators have to pay up 1–2% of their annual turnover — the upper limit of the contribution is 5% of the total social security fund for gig workers and platform workers. Under the draft rules, each aggregator has to assess the contribution payable by them and pay this amount to the designated account of the Social Security Fund. For the preceding year of benefits, the aggregator has to pay this up by June 30th of the current year. 

In this self-assessment, the aggregator has to specify the liability payable to gig workers and platform workers and the provisional contribution amount. Turnover will be calculated as gross amount of revenue in the Profit and Loss account from sale of goods and services during a financial year. The turnover shall not include any tax, levy, or cess paid to the central government. Every aggregator has to register on the Shram Suvidha portal, which is the Labour Ministry website, or any other website as the Central government may specify.  

The central government will notify an office or agency that will be the authority responsible to collect and spend the contribution from aggregators. This authority can seek any information from aggregators for registration of gig and platforms workers, and forming of schemes and their implementation. The contribution will be part of the Social Security Fund in a separate account meant for gig and platform workers. In case of delayed payments, incomplete payments, or non-payment, an interest of 1% per month has to be paid by aggregators. 

How the Fund will be established and administered

All expenses to be towards social security benefits for gig workers and platform workers, as well as for unorganised workers will be met out of the Social Security Fund. This fund is made up of: 

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  1. Schemes for unorganised workers to be funded wholly or partly by the central and state governments, by the beneficiaries, or by CSR funds as the central government may specify 
  2. Schemes for gig workers and platform workers funded partly or wholly by the central government, aggregators, or CSR funds 

The central government will designate the agency that will administer the fund, the agency has to maintain a statement of accounts and notify the central government of it. The Social Security Fund will be audited by the CAG of India 

National Social Security Board: Govt-nominated reps from aggregators, gig and platform workers, experts

Under the code, the government will set up 25-member National Social Security Board for Gig Workers and Platform Workers. This board will make recommendations on formulating schemes for gig workers and platform workers and will monitor such schemes. It will also advise the centre on issues that arise out of the code’s administration. Formation of such a board was laid out in the Code, but it was unclear whether there would be a separate, dedicated board for gig and platform workers, or if their would issues would be dealt with a wider board for unorganised workers. 

Under the Code, the Union Labour Minister will serve as chairperson and the Labour Secretary will serve as vice-chairperson of this Board. The other members will be: 

  • the Director General of the Employees’ State Insurance Corporation
  • Central Provident Fund Commissioner of the board of trustees of the Employees’ Provident Fund 
  • Five representatives of the state government by rotation as decided by the central government 
  • Joint secretary of the Labour Ministry as member secretary of the board 

Apart from the above ten members (including the chair and vice-chair), the Code also provided for 15 more members to be nominated by the central government: 5 representatives each from aggregators, and gig workers and platform workers, nominated by the central government. According to the draft rules, these 15 members will be: 

  • 5 representatives of aggregators across ride-sharing, logistics, e-marketplaces (both marketplace and inventory model), professional services provider, healthcare, travel and hospitality, content and media services, and any other goods and services provider platform, on a rotation basis.  
  • 5 people “representing the different types of gig workers and platform workers” on a rotation basis 
  • 5 experts in labour welfare, management, finance, law, administration, e-commerce, or information technology 

The rules also lay down that a member can hold office for three years (which is one term) and can be renominated. One member can serve for a maximum of two terms, i.e. for six years. 

Power to form committee: Further, the draft rules empower the board to constitute an expert committee to advise it on matters related to welfare of gig and platform workers, assessment of number of gig workers and platform workers, identifying new types of aggregators, or any other matter related to gig workers and platform workers. The board, to be able to execute its functions, can constitute a committee to deliberate and recommend on specific issues.  

MeetingsThe board has to meet at least thrice a year and has a quorum of six members. Each meeting will be chaired by the chairperson, or the vice-chairperson is the chairperson’s absence. If the vice-chairperson cannot be present, a trustee or member nominated by the chairperson shall preside over the meeting. 

  • Every question considered at the meeting will be decided by a majority vote of the trustees or members present and voting. The chairperson will be the tie-breaker, and will cast an additional vote. 
  • The minutes of meetings, including names of members present, has to be forwarded to each trustee or member of the Board and to the central government “as soon as possible” and no later than four weeks after the meeting. The minutes need to be signed by the chairperson of the meeting. 

Under the code, the central government has the power to dissolve the Board and reconstitute it if it is unable to discharge its duties. In such a case, the draft rules give the central government the power to appoint new members to the board and in the interim perform the powers and functions of the Board. 

How to comment: Objections and suggestions can be sent to rahul.bhagat@ips.gov.in or via snail mail to Rahul Bhagat, Director, Ministry of Labour and Employment, Room No.302, Shram Shakti Bhawan, Rafi Marg, New Delhi-110001.

Also readCode on Social Security, 2020, lays down gig and platform worker benefits

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