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Millions of gig workers set to get health cover, other sops with labour law tweak

The code on social security, one of four codes that are intended to refashion 43 labour laws, seeks to extend coverage of employees state insurance corporation act across India and to all establishments employing 10 or more employees.

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Last Updated: Jan 10, 2020, 11.08 AM IST
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labour
Government said that new definitions have been included to cater to emerging forms of employment like aggregator, gig worker and platform worker.
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(This story originally appeared in on Jan 10, 2020)
NEW DELHI: The inclusion of "gig workers" in new labour laws, offering millions of informal workers like Uber drivers and Swiggy riders benefits like health insurance and other schemes, is set to be okayed by Parliament's standing committee on labour which concluded its discussions on Thursday.

In its brief to the committee, headed by BJD MP Bhartruhari Mahtab, the government said that new definitions have been included to cater to emerging forms of employment like aggregator, gig worker and platform worker.

"For these workers, schemes can be formulated by the central government with regard to disability cover, health and maternity benefits," it said. The code on social security, one of four codes that are intended to refashion 43 labour laws, seeks to extend coverage of employees state insurance corporation act across India and to all establishments employing 10 or more employees.

Earlier the ESIC Act's applicability was based on the concept of notification for each district or a part of it and the law can be specific to hazardous occupations.

"In such (hazardous) classes of establishment, the threshold can be even one worker," the government has said, adding that an employer of a plantation may opt for the ESIC by willingly joining the corporation.

The committee seems in agreement with the view that these measures will go a long way in extending social security for medical services, sickness and maternity benefits as also dependent pension and employee compensation.

Thresholds for provident fund, ESIC, gratuity, maternity benefits and social security can be set or changed through notifications rather than amendments of specific acts.

At present, under the unorganised workers social security act, 2008, there is no provision of electronic registration of workers. It has been proposed that an unorganised worker will submit a self declaration electronically or otherwise in a form to an authority prescribed by government.

A registered unorganised worker will be assigned a unique number based on Aadhaar.

Stiff fines have been proposed, with increases of as much as 10-fold, as earlier the fines were last revised in 1998.

At the same time there is a provision of prior warning for improvement and for complying with the new code. The news codes are likely to be discussed and voted on in the second half of the budget session.
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