Gig on the Rise: Promises and Perils in the Indian Context

Gig On The Rise: Promises And Perils In The Indian Context


In the unfolding landscape of modern labour dynamics, the ascendancy of “gig work” and “platform work” assumes a remarkable centrality, illuminating the prominence of unstructured labour. Defined within the parameters of the Social Security Code of 2020, a “gig worker” embodies the modern professional who embraces non-traditional work arrangements beyond the confines of conventional employer-employee relationships. Similarly, “platform work” unveils a virtual realm where individuals and entities converge through digital platforms, to provide specific services or solve problems in exchange for compensation. These definitions not only signify a seismic shift from traditional labour paradigms but also beckon a refined exploration into the intricacies and merits that mould the journeys of these contributors.

According to the NITI Aayog, the gig workforce was approximately 7.7 million individuals during the fiscal year 2020-21, with projections suggesting an exponential surge to reach a staggering 23.5 million by the fiscal year 2029-30. However, this meteoric rise has also cast a spotlight on the challenges faced by gig workers, prompting protests and increased lobbying by gig workers’ unions aimed at advocating for enhanced wages, benefits and improved working conditions.

Issues Confronting the Gig Economy

The gig economy in India is marked by a myriad of hurdles, significantly impacting the lives of its participants. From the absence of social security benefits to the lack of safety nets, gig workers contend with a range of issues that demand attention and resolution. Several key issues facing gig workers today are below (though not exhaustive):

  • Lack of Permanence and Social Security: Gig workers are deprived of essential social security benefits due to the absence of permanence in their work arrangements.
  • Safety Disparities: Compared to permanent employees, gig workers face greater vulnerability to injury or illness, lacking adequate safety provisions.
  • Digital Divide and Access Barriers: Those without ready access to technology and internet resources find themselves at a significant disadvantage in the digital-centric gig landscape, perpetuating economic disparities.
  • Compensation Challenges: Gig workers in India often contend with reduced wages and lack legal protections, further amplifying their vulnerability.
  • Instability and Job Security: The bedrock of employment stability is absent in the gig realm, where tenure and job security remain elusive.
  • Fluctuating Incomes: Absence of fixed pay structures leads to uncertain and fluctuating incomes for gig workers.
  • Lack of Comprehensive Research: The gig economy in India suffers from a dearth of comprehensive research, hindering policymakers’ understanding of its full scope and impact.
  • Challenges in Policy Formulation: The absence of informed insights poses a significant challenge in crafting effective policies to alleviate the struggles faced by the gig workforce.

Gig Economy Empowerment: Karnataka’s Progressive Stance

In a significant move, the Karnataka Budget has extended a substantial boost to the gig economy by introducing a commendable provision: a free insurance cover of INR 4 lakh for gig workers. This laudable step envisions the establishment of a dedicated ‘Gig Workers’ Welfare Board’ for Karnataka, backed by an initial allocation of INR 3,000 Crores. The visionary outlook of this initiative is well-founded, considering the soaring trajectory of the gig economy. Implementation remains pending, lingering in anticipation.

Alongside Karnataka, Rajasthan joins in offering social security and insurance benefits to gig workers. The recently passed Rajasthan Platform Based Gig Workers (Registration and Welfare) Bill 2023 intends to introduce a welfare board and a social security fund dedicated to platform-based gig workers, ensuring their enhanced protection and well-being.

The Rajasthan Platform-based Gig Workers (Registration and Welfare) Bill, 2023

The Rajasthan Platform-based Gig Workers (Registration and Welfare) Bill, 2023 represents a significant stride towards safeguarding the rights and welfare of gig workers in the absence of comprehensive labour codes. Passed in the Rajasthan Legislative Assembly on July 24, 2023, it establishes a pioneering framework for social security schemes tailored specifically for gig workers. The bill mandates the creation of a board with balanced representation from both gig workers and aggregators, as well as key departments like Labour, Information Technology, Social Justice and Empowerment, Transport, and Finance. This board assumes the crucial role of central authority, responsible for registering gig workers and aggregators, overseeing cess deductions, instituting robust monitoring mechanisms, and designing and implementing vital social security schemes. Additionally, it is vested with the responsibility of ensuring timely resolution of grievances, collaborating with registered unions affiliated with platform-based gig workers, and conducting regular open consultations. Rajasthan emerges as a pioneer in advocating for the welfare and protection of gig workers, setting a promising precedent for other regions to follow suit.

Jharkhand joins Rajasthan in extending Minimum Wage Requirements to Gig Workers

After Rajasthan, Jharkhand too is taking much-needed steps towards incorporating gig workers into the framework of minimum wage regulations and other Social Security benefits. A committee, convened by the Jharkhand State Minimum Wage Advisory Council under the state’s labour department has been established to tackle this crucial issue. This committee’s primary goal is to thoroughly examine the working conditions of gig workers, including those involved in delivery and ride-hailing services. Based on their findings, the committee will offer recommendations regarding minimum wages for these workers. It is estimated that approximately 12 lakh individuals are currently engaged in gig work across various districts of Jharkhand, underscoring the profound impact of this initiative in improving the livelihoods of a significant portion of the gig economy.

Upsides under the Social Security Code, 2020

The proposed Code on Social Security, 2020 is a crucial initiative that provides social security benefits to gig and platform workers. This includes:

  • Initiative for Gig and Platform Workers: Offers social security benefits tailored for gig and platform workers.
  • Comprehensive Benefits: Includes life and disability cover, accident insurance, crèche, health and maternity benefits, and old age protection.
  • Implementation through Established Organisations – EPFO and ESIC: Utilises established bodies like the Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation and Employees’ State Insurance Corporation for implementation.
  • Funded by Aggregators: Funded through contributions from aggregators in the gig economy.
  • Toll-Free Helpline: Establishes a toll-free call center, helpline, or facilitation center.
  • Registration Assistance: Provides information and assistance with the registration process.
  • Societal Benefit: Benefits society at large by promoting a secure work environment.

What Lies Beyond

This digital revolution has not only streamlined interactions between labour and businesses but has also provided a platform for adaptable work arrangements, aligned with evolving processes. The upsurge of driven and educated workers in pursuit of extra income has further fuelled the gig economy’s expansion, especially in tandem with the surging demands of e-commerce, notably within delivery and logistics domains.

As we contemplate these gains, it’s imperative to recognise the benefits that will arise when the Social Security Code, 2020 comes to life. This development will help gig workers by affording them benefits akin to those of their permanent counterparts, marking a significant stride toward parity. The realisation of these assurances hinges upon rigorous and comprehensive execution. While the undeniable potential of the gig economy to reshape employment models stands, ensuring the protection of these very workers is a top priority. It is only through a collective interplay of policy, industry synergy, and regulatory vigilance that we can effectively harness the benefits of the gig economy, concurrently fostering an atmosphere of equity, security, and shared affluence.

-Sourabha Venkatesh, 


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Archana Madan – POSH Specialist & Advocate

Archana Madan Kohli is an advocate with close to 15 years experience in in-house and law firm roles. At BCP Associates, she specialises in providing various services to clients under the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 (“POSH Act”). Archana is the External Member of the Internal Committee of multiple organizations across sectors and is well versed in handling POSH inquiries. She also handles POSH queries, including drafting and reviewing policies and assisting in setting up Internal Committees.

Archana is also a trainer, delivering specialised sessions for Managers and Senior Management, Employee General Awareness sessions for all employees and Internal Committee training. Apart from English, Archana is fluent in delivering training sessions in Hindi, and Punjabi.

Archana started her career with Bharti Infratel Limited moved on to Wipro Limited, Adecco India Private Limited, Cloudnine Hospitals, Virinchi Limited and Medicover Hospitals in different capacities.

Archana holds a Bachelor of Law (LL.B.) degree from Himachal Pradesh University, Shimla. She has earned her Post Graduate Diploma in Drafting, Negotiation and Enforcement of Contracts from NALSAR University of Law, Hyderabad with distinction.

B. Chandrashekar Shetty - Advocate

Mr. Chandrashekar Shetty is a Senior Labour Law Compliance Auditor at BCP Associates and has audited multiple client companies across India. He is also a member of our senior legal advisory practice. Previously he has worked as Deputy Controller, Manager-Industrial Relations and Industrial Relations Officer in KPTCL, Bangalore for more than 30 years. Prior to this, he has dealt with Legal, Personnel and IR matters including Wage Settlements, Grievance Machinery, Manpower Study and Social Security Compliances for about 10 years. He is a Faculty member of Labour Law, HRD Centre, KPTCL Bangalore.

Mr. Shetty holds a B.Com. and L.L.B. degree, Post-Graduate Diploma in Business Administration, Diploma in Public Relations from Bangalore University and PG Diploma in Industrial Relations & Personnel Management from Bharatiya Vidya Bhawan. He is enrolled as Advocate in Karnataka Bar Council and is a Govt. Arbitrator of Chit Funds in Karnataka.

S Venugopal Rao

S Venugopal Rao is an experienced labour law and service matters expert and is a member of the senior advisory team at BCP Associates. Having joined the chambers of Mr. B C Prabhakar in 2012, he is knowledgeable and well versed in multiple employment and labour law topics.

S Venugopal Rao holds a Bachelor’s degree in Science from Karnataka University, Dharwar and Bachelor of Law from Bangalore University. He enrolled as advocate in Karantaka State Bar Council in 1976. He joined the chamber of Sri. Kolachalam Srinivasa Rao a leading civil advocate. After practicing for 6 years at Ballari, he joined Orient Paper Mills, Orissa (of G P Birla Group). He was designated as Manager (Law) under the Factories Act in 1995. In 1999, he joined Andhra Pradesh Paper Mills Rajahmundry as Manager Legal and was subsequently elevated as Dy. General Manager (Legal). As Factory Manager & Legal Head, he oversaw compliance of Factories Act and Rules there under towards safety, health and welfare, including compliance under Pollutions and Environmental laws and Explosives Act, etc. Additionally, he is well acquainted with Environment Management System ISO 14001: 2004, Occupations, Health and Safety Series 18000:1999. As Legal head in APPM he has briefed and appeared along with Senior Advocate before Appellate Authority constituted under Water (Prevention & Control of Pollution) Act. He retired from the services of Andhra Pradesh Paper Mills in 2011.

As legal head he has handled important cases both in Labour and Civil and has experience in drafting and vetting Contracts, Agreements, Lease Agreement, Conveyance Deeds, , Affidavits and scrutiny of several legal and other documents, Preparing and settling Petitions, Appeals, Plaints, Written Statements, Rejoinders, Affidavits and Written Arguments etc. for submission/pleadings for various legal proceedings.

C K Devappa Gowda - Advocate

C.K. Devappa Gowda (CKD) is an Advocate and Labour Law expert. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Science from the University of Mysore and a Degree in Bachelor of Law from Bengaluru respectively. He also holds a Diploma in Social Service Administration from the National Institute of Social Science, Bengaluru. After completing his studies, he had enrolled as a Advocate and initially practiced in the Civil Code attached to the office of BCP. He then worked as Personnel Officer in Chemicals and Textile Manufacturing Industries for 5 years. Thereafter took up employment in one of the largest Public Sector Bank. He has worked in different parts of the country and has extensive experience in the cross country IR domain. The significant part of his service was at corporate level overseeing and implementing HR policies and practices and management of IR. He has been a member of personnel committee of Indian Bank Association.

After retirement from service, Mr. Gowda has been working with Mr. BC Prabhakar’s firm for the last 12 years. He has expertise in all areas of people management, drafting of documents relating to service matter including the settlements under the ID Act. He has dealt with all employment laws including appearance before the Courts, Tribunal and Authorities under the different Labour Laws. Mr. Gowda is one of the senior Labour Law experts at BCP Associates.

Srijatha Ghosh - POSH Specialist & Advocate

Srijata Ghosh serves as external member on the Internal Committee of several Companies across various sectors. She handles all kinds of POSH related matters including investigations and inquiries. She provides Training on Sexual Harassment across all verticals for Managers and Senior Management, General Awareness for all employees and Internal Committee members on the legislation (The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal Act, 2013). She also formulates Policies for Prevention of Sexual Harassment at Workplace (“POSH”) and advises Companies on setting up of their Internal Committees. Srijata is involved in providing Legal Advisory services on POSH and other labour law matters for various clients.

In her previous experience, she has extensively dealt with End-to-End Contract Management, Due Diligence, POSH Compliances, Legal Advisory, etc. Srijata worked with Companies like Accenture India Private Limited, Quess Corp., Capgemini Business Services (India) Limited and Pramata Knowledge Solutions Private Limited. Srijata has handled varied legal issues including drafting, vetting and negotiation of contracts, drafting policies of various organizations. She has resolved issues relating to employment laws and has worked closely with the HR teams. She has provided legal advisory services to senior management. She was also associated with Kolkata High Court in counselling clients with legal matters such as Property, Due Diligence etc. Srijata has worked in an LPO Service Firm, Manthan Legal Services Private Limited for Legal Research, depositions, medical summaries, demand drafting etc.

Srijata completed her B.A.LL.B from M. S. Ramaiah College of Law, Bangalore University in 2009. Srijata is a member of the Karnataka Bar Council since 2010. She is also a member of the Gender Sensitivity Sub Committee of Karnataka Employer Association (KEA).

Caroline Lobo - POSH Specialist & Advocate

Caroline Lobo has been with BCP Associates for the past 2+ years. She has been handling matters and Inquiries related to the POSH Act including conducting inquiries and trainings/awareness programmes for Senior Management, employees as well as members of the Internal Committee on the POSH Legislation (The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 (“Act”) to address Workplace Harassment of Women. She is a member of the Internal Committee for many varied companies and organisations and has reviewed and scrutinized numerous hearings and inquiries on matters relating to sexual harassment at workplace.

She has also handled matters relating to employer-employee related Enquiries, wherein she has reviewed and conducted hearings and enquired into the matters and has guided the Internal Committee and provided guidance in providing recommendations to the management. She is also a Member of the Gender Sensitivity Sub-committee of Karnataka Employer Association (KEA).

Prior to joining BCP Associates, Caroline has has a wide range of experience in corporate, commercial and contract law, mergers and acquisition and has undertaken drafting, vetting, negotiating and finalizing legal and commercial transactions. She started her career in litigation then moved onto the Corporate sector. In the span of 13 years, she has worked at Chambers of Advocate Jayashree Murali, Krishnamurthy and Co. Legal Consultants, Colt Technology Services and Oracle India Pvt. Ltd. She always had a keen interest in Women and Child related issues. She has worked with Child Welfare Committee and NGOS’s. In addition, she has worked with Swasthi Health Resource and Centre, where she was the External member to the Internal Committee (IC). She worked closely with the committee in strategizing, planning, reviewing and implementing the assigned tasks, which included building material to raise awareness against sexual harassment at workplace. Further, she has been involved in conducting inquiries into matters related to sexual harassment at workplace.

Caroline earned her Law degree from University Law College, Bangalore, from where she graduated in the year 2005.

Manoj Kumar – Senior Associate

At BCP Associates, Manoj Kumar is involved in managing and conducting labour law compliance audits of principal employer and contractors. He is also involved in client co-ordination and conducting labour law training programs for vendors. He has conducted on-ground labour law audit for factories. Manoj also provides support in advising vendor clients on labour law queries. He completed B.A., LL.B. from BMS College of Law, Bangalore in 2016.

Rashmitha Venkatachalam Das - POSH Specialist & Advocate

Rashmitha Venkatachalam Das is an advocate with more than 15 years’ varied experience including both law firm and in-house roles. As an expert on BCP Associates’ POSH team, she specialises in providing a broad range of services under the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 (“POSH Act”). Currently, Rashmitha is the External Member of the Internal Committee of multiple organizations across sectors and has deep expertise in handling POSH inquiries. She also supports these organisations on a regular basis with queries related to sexual harassment, including drafting and reviewing POSH policies and assisting in setting up Internal Committees.

Rashmitha is also a seasoned POSH trainer, having delivered a multitude of specialised sessions for Managers and Senior Management, Employee General Awareness sessions, and focused training for Internal Committee members. In addition to English, she is fluent in Hindi and Kannada, ensuring meaningful training sessions and effective inquiries.

Having started her career at law firm of Krishnamurthy and Co, Rashmitha moved to in-house roles with Biocon Limited, Columbia Asia Hospitals Private Limited and Adecco India Private Limited. 

Rashmitha holds an LL.M. in Labour and Employment Laws from University Law College, Bangalore, graduating in the year 2018 with Two Gold Medals. She is also a Rank Holder at the University. She obtained her BA, LL.B. degree from Bangalore Institute of Legal Studies, Bangalore University in 2009. Rashmitha is registered with the Karnataka Bar Council since 2009 and is also a member of the Gender Sensitivity Sub Committee of Karnataka Employer Association (KEA), an industry association of employers with over 700 members.

Manisha Vidyadhar – Senior Associate

At BCP Associates, Manisha Vidyadhar is involved in managing and conducting labour law compliance audits of principal employer and contractors. She is also involved in client co-ordination and conducting labour law training programs for vendors. She has conducted on-ground labour law audit for factories. Manisha also provides support in advising vendor clients on labour law queries.  She completed B.A., LL.B. from BMS College of Law, Bangalore in 2016.

Amrutha Ananth – Principal Associate

At BCP Associates, Amrutha is a part of the Legal Advisory practice, Legal Audit practice and Labour Code Alignment Programme (LCAP). Amrutha specialises in Labour and Employment Laws and compliance having advised some of India’s leading companies for some of their most complex labour law matters.

Amrutha has more than seven years of experience in labour and employment law and has conducted several audits for both, principal employer and contractor for various leading IT/ITES companies, manufacturing sectors like pharma, automobile, construction and start-ups.

She is actively involved in drafting and reviewing employment contracts, HR policies, Employee Handbook, show cause notice, etc. for various organizations spread across diverse sectors. As a part of the Labour Code Alignment Program, she assists companies in review and alignment of their existing wage and employment policy with the provisions of the Labour Codes.

Sunil Arya – Principle Associate

At BCP Associates, Sunil Arya is part of the labour and employment law advisory and HR Policy practice and is actively involved in drafting and reviewing of employment contracts, opinions, HR policies, employee handbook, show cause notice, etc. for various clients spread across diverse sectors. He conducts training on labour and employment laws. Sunil is also involved in labour law compliance audits of principal employer and contractors and has conducted on-ground labour law audit for factories. In addition, he is engaged in knowledge creation and management of the firm and keenly writes on developments in labour and employment laws.

Prior to joining BCP Associates, Sunil has 10 years of post-qualification experience in diversified portfolios of advisory, drafting, policy analysis and dispute in the domains of contracts, general civil matters, employment law, competition law and construction arbitration matters. Sunil started his career as a Law Researcher in Delhi High Court. He moved on to be part of regulatory analysis team of CIRC, a unit of CUTS International. In addition, Sunil has been part of legal team of Jindal India Thermal Power Limited. He has also taught competition law, tax law and investment law at VIPS, Delhi.

Sunil holds LL.M. from The Indian Law Institute, Delhi. He is First Rank Holder in his thesis. He completed B.A, L.L.B. (Hons.) from I.P. University, Delhi. He also holds First Rank in P.G. Diploma in Competition Policy and Laws from The National Law University, Delhi.

Chandrakala K A – Principle Associate

At BCP Associates, Chandrakala has 12+ years of experience in conducting and managing labour law compliance audits of principal employer and contractors. She is also involved in co-ordination with many clients. She has conducted on-ground labour law audit for factories. She also provides support in advising vendors on labour law queries. Chandrakala is actively involved in research and providing valuable inputs to the firm pertaining to updation in labour law audit function.

Chandrakala started her career in litigation in chamber of Sri. Ashok where she was involved in drafting, pleading and appearance before Karnataka High Courts and lower courts on the criminal side.

Chandrakala completed B.A in Arts from Kuvempu University, Shimoga in 2003 and LL.B. from Mangalore University in 2006.