The labour ministry has set a target to bring 40-50 lakh platform and gig workers under the Employees’ State Insurance Scheme (ESIC), once the Social Security Code is implemented.
The code, passed by Parliament last September, seeks to extend ESIC benefits to these two categories of workers, which are among the least privileged among the labour force.
It has been proposed that the platforms and aggregators such as Swiggy and Uber will contribute either 1-2% of the annual turnover or 5% of the total amount payable to such workers, whichever is lower, to a social security fund.
The Centre was planning to implement the four labour codes passed by Parliament recently from April 1, 2021. However, as FE had reported, the implementation is likely to be delayed as most of the state governments are yet to frame the rules under the codes.
India is one of the few countries where steps have been initiated to bring workers of such category under social security. The standing committee on labour had recommended framing of schemes for platform and gig workers in the labour codes.
Sources in the labour ministry said that an estimated 40-50 lakh such workers are likely to join the ESIC scheme soon after the code is implemented, but the number might go up in future. The idea is to bring all workers under some sort of social security net, they said.
In the budget for 2021-22, the government had proposed to set up a database of informal sector employees including gig and platform workers which may help in offering social security and welfare benefits to them.
As per government’s latest data, between September, 2017 and December, 2020, over 4.63 crore new subscribers joined the ESI scheme. As on March, 2018, ESIC had around 13 crore beneficiaries eligible to avail ESI benefits.
ESIC is applicable to establishments having more than 10 workers. Option for becoming member of ESIC has also been given to establishments with less than 10 workers under the social security code.
ESIC is now present around 570 districts in the country and the government plans to extend its coverage to all 740 districts in the country. ESIC had recently tied up with Ayushman Bharat to extend cashless medical services through Ayushman Bharat empanelled hospitals to its around 1.35 crore beneficiaries in four states where its own facility is not available.