Update: The Rajasthan government on July 24, 2023 passed the Rajasthan Platform Based Gig Workers (Registration and Welfare) Bill. This makes Rajasthan the first Indian state to provide social security cover to platform based workers. The features of this Bill are as detailed below.
Rajasthan’s online aggregator companies and primary employers of gig workers will soon have to provide a database of all gig workers onboarded or registered with them to a government body, as per the draft Rajasthan Platform Based Gig Workers (Registration and Welfare) Bill, 2023.
Gig workers’ union on July 2, 2023, shared and called for feedback on the draft version of the Bill. This is the first state legislature to address gig worker concerns and their demands for social security. It applies to any aggregator/ primary employer operating in the state that provides one or more of the following services: ride sharing, food and grocery delivery, logistics, e-Market place (both market place and inventory model) for wholesale/retail sale of goods and/or services, Business to Business/Business to Consumer (B2B/B2C), professional services provider, healthcare, travel and hospitality, content and media services.
“The Government of Rajasthan also puts forward a necessary minimum benchmark for subsequent legal interventions on this issue. We urge the government to pass the Bill urgently, and vow to take our campaign forward to push for the passage of such a Bill at the National Level and in other states,” said a press release by the Indian Federation of App-Based Transport Workers (IFAT).
Why it matters: Gig workers have been demanding a government law to guarantee social security and welfare schemes to the community. The draft Bill comes as heartening news for gig workers in Rajasthan. Further, the registration of gig workers also comes as an interesting development in a sector that was meant as a pitch to folks with vehicles for additional income.
Salient features of the Gig Workers Bill
Automatic registration of workers and employers: For platform-based gig workers, the aggregators or primary employers must provide their worker database to the Rajasthan Platform-Based Gig Workers Welfare Board. These workers will be automatically registered with the Board which shall maintain a database of workers in the state, their employment with one or more aggregators/primary employers, and their time of engagement with app-based platforms. The Board will then create a unique ID for every gig worker onboarded in the state. This registration “shall be valid in perpetuity.”
Similarly, the Board will maintain a register of aggregators and primary employers operating in the state and the details of a Board-authorised officer responsible for carrying out obligations under this Act. “The Board shall publish the register of aggregators and primary employer on its web portal,” says the Bill.
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Duties of the Welfare Board: The welfare Board will consist of representatives of gig workers, state government, and aggregators to “govern the norms of implementation and monitoring of the Act.” Aside from worker and employer registration, the Board will also have the following responsibilities:
- ensure that welfare cess deduction mechanism is integrated with the functioning of the application of the aggregator or primary employer;
- set up a monitoring mechanism to review compliance of provisions of this Act and to certify that welfare cess is being duly deducted;
- formulate and notify schemes for social security of registered platform-based gig workers and take such measures as it may deem fit for administering such schemes;
- ensure that workers have access to the benefits as per the schemes formulated by the Board and to provide pro-active facilitation to workers in their engagement with concerned aggregator or primary employer;
- ensure rights of platform-based gig workers, under section 13 of this Act, are protected;
- engage with registered unions working with platform-based gig workers and hold regular open consultations with them;
- nominate persons or officers who would be competent to act on behalf of any registered platform-based gig worker to initiate action for making any claim under any law or rules made thereunder or award or settlement made under any such law and appear on behalf of the registered platform-based gig worker in such proceedings;
- may call special invitees for suggestions, consultation or any such advice as the need may be;
- formulate general schemes for benefit of all platform-based gig workers registered under this Act towards accidental insurance, immediate assistance in case of accident, medical emergencies and health insurance and other benefits concerning health, accident and education as may be prescribed;
- transfer all monetary benefits accrued to the platform-based gig workers through Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT);
- constitute a committee for formulating, their review and implementation of schemes: Provided that the committee shall search for convergence with social security schemes of Government both Central and State so that optimum use can be made of social security contributions as well as maximum benefit possible be accrued to the platform-based gig workers.
Creation of fund for gig workers: The state government will shall establish a “Rajasthan Platform Based Gig Workers Social Security and Welfare Fund” for gig worker benefits and will partly be funded from:
- all sums received from welfare cess levied under section 12;
- all contributions made by individual platform-based gig workers;
- all sums received as grant-in-aid from the State Government;
- all sums received by way of grants, gifts, donations, benefactions, bequests or transfers; and
- all sums received from other sources.
Aggregators/employers to pay welfare cess: The draft also establishes the levy of a welfare cess on aggregators/primary employers known as “The Platform Based Gig Workers Welfare Cess.” While the rate will be notified by the state government, it shall not exceed 2 percent nor fall short of 1 percent of the value of each transaction related to platform-based gig workers. This amount must be deposited by the fifth day of every calendar month.
“By doing so, the Bill squarely establishes the legal right of platform-based Gig workers to earn their social security through their own hard work and value generated for the platform economy,” said IFAT.
Bill recognizes gig workers’ rights: The Rajasthan Bill recognizes the following rights of workers:
- be registered with the Board on being onboarded on any app-based platform work, irrespective of the duration of the work, and be provided a Unique ID applicable across all platforms;
- have access to general and specific social security schemes based on contributions made as may be notified by the Board;
- have an opportunity to be heard for any grievances and appropriate grievance redressal mechanism as specified in section 15;
- participate in all decisions taken for their welfare through representation in the Board:
Duties of aggregator and primary employer: The Bill states that every aggregator/ primary employer will have the following duties:
- get registered with the Board within sixty days of enforcement of this Act;
- provide the Board with the latest data of all platform-based gig workers engaged by him within sixty days of enforcement of this Act;
- update the Board about any changes, i.e., increase or decrease in numbers of platform-based gig workers in the data provided under clause (b) within one month of such change;
- deposit the amount of platform-based gig workers’ welfare cess levied as per section 12, by fifth day of each calendar month;
- submit monthly return in such form as may be prescribed, by fifth day of each calendar month including all information as required under section 18.
Gig workers grievance redressal mechanism: Gig workers can file a petition before an officer or make a petition via a web portal regarding any grievance arising out of “entitlements, payments, and other benefits provided under the Act.” The officer so authorised can then dispose of the petition by passing an order of redressal and issuing a direction to the aggregator/ primary employer for payment of appropriate compensation. Meanwhile, the employer can appeal against the order within 90 days from the date of the order before the Appellate Authority. However, the Authority may admit the appeal even after 90 days “if it is satisfied that the appellant was prevented by sufficient cause from filing the appeal in time.”
Further, the Bill said, “any amount of welfare cess due under this Act from an aggregator and primary employer may be recovered in the same manner as an arrear of land revenue, as may be prescribed.”
Penalties under the Bill: Aggregators failing to comply with the provisions of this Bill will pay a fine of up to INR 5 lakh for the first contravention and up to INR 50 lakh for subsequent contravention. Similarly, primary employers will pay up to INR 10,000 for the first contravention and up to INR 2 lakh for subsequent contravention. In case of non-payment, the fine shall be recoverable by the method as prescribed in Rajasthan Land Revenue Act, 1956, said the Bill.
Creation of a Central Transaction Information and Management System: This is a system that maps all payments generated on platforms. Otherwise called the CTIMS, it is monitored by the Board.
“Every payment including its break up of commission charged, payment made to Platform Based Gig Workers, Goods and Services Tax (GST) deducted and welfare cess deducted will be recorded on the Central Transaction Information and Management System (CTIMS) for each transaction related to Platform Based Gig Worker. The formats of payment shall be such as may be prescribed,” said the Bill.
Similarly, the details of welfare cess collected and spent at the Platform Based Gig Workers level shall be disclosed and made available for inspection on this system.
Board to present an annual report to the government: In the miscellaneous section of the Bill, it is stated that the Board must annually prepare a report of its activities under this law and submit it to the Rajasthan government. This report will then be laid before the House of the State Legislature.
Note: This article was updated at 10 AM on July 25, 2023 after the Rajasthan government passed the Bill in the State Assembly on July 24.
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