Gig Economy: A game changer or an exploiter?

Perspective

Can we expect a fairer job world in new India? Let’s read…

Meghna Maiti

As flashy names such as Uber, Ola, Zomato, Paytm, Swiggy rapidly cover the economic landscape, there is a clear change in paradigm. The new India seems to have ushered in ‘Gig economy’ or ‘App economy’ which entails employment related with short-term or independent contracts and freelance assignments, with almost zilch job security or workplace protection, moving away from ‘nine-to-five,’ permanent jobs. And this is especially true for creative professions such as advertising, journalism, marketing, among others. Such professionals are 'independent contractors' who must pay for their own medical claim, insurance expenses. And they get laid off anytime too, with no warning or reasons, whatsoever. However, millennials still prefer such jobs owing to the kind of freedom and flexibility it provides, with no strings attached, just like the journey of a jazz musician.

By now we all are aware of the realities of new India, the kind of economic and social transformations it is bringing in. But how do we address the issues plaguing it? As the world and Indian economy heals and a brave new world emerges, should we not champion for a more protected and safe life for its soldiers? So what kind of reforms should we ask from the employers and the government? For employees who are ‘in between’ ‘full-time, permanent employees’ and ‘freelancers,’ who are often called ‘consultants,’ there should be clearly laid down rules on timing. They cannot be expected to serve full-time as permanent employees. Secondly, in the shared or collaborative or gig economy, such employees should form a union to protect themselves from discriminatory practices. Thirdly, basic protection like medi claim should be provided to such employees. Fourthly, no such employee could be dismissed or fired on the whims and fancies of the employers. Both the parties concerned should be accountable for their actions. A legal person should also get involved while signing the job contract. Also, in case of dismissal, an employee should be informed at least three months in advance to look for another job.

Undoubtedly, in a crass capitalist set-up the above mentioned rules might sound too idealistic. But as the new India emerges, we should also be up on our toes to radically rewrite the rules of the game and tap into the massive energy of the participants to create a fairer world. So, lets once again begin our journey as the disruptor in this space.

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