Presenting the Union Budget for 2021-22, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said the government also proposed setting up of a portal to collect information on gig-workers, building and construction workers, among others. The government said social security benefits will be extended to platform and gig workers. The gig economy is a free market system in which temporary positions are common and organisations hire independent workers for short-term commitments.

Experts shared their view with Firstpost on the benefit of the Budget 2021 announcements.

Gayathri Vasudevan Chairperson and Co-Founder, Labournet Services India

Social security benefits to gig workers and migrants, in the long run, will nurture risk appetite in workers for gig work, reduce precarity. Mandated social security will mean financial and social inclusion. Implementation will mean planning human capacity building and skilling in parallel to infrastructure building. The infrastructure itself will enable livelihoods. Clean India mission could be channelled for skilling and improving working conditions of sanitation workers. Budget can be utilised for skilling frameworks in Indian contexts and professionalising this cadre.

Neha Bagaria, Founder, CEO, JobsForHer

The government’s emphasis on creating an Atmanirbhar Bharat is synonymous with ensuring that our women are also Atmanirbhar, which can only come with their financial independence. It is thus a welcome change that women will be allowed to work in all categories with adequate protection, a move which will open up further job opportunities for women, thus enabling higher financial security. Additionally, we had highlighted the need to ensure that gig workers, a huge proportion of whom are women, need to be provided with adequate benefits. It is thus heartening to see that social security benefits will now be extended to gig and platform workers for the first time.

Sahil Sharma, Co-Founder and CEO, GigIndia

Budget 2021 will provide a shot in the arm for gig and platform workers, given the decision to extend social security benefits to this cohort. Moreover, they would be now covered under the ESIC (Employee State Insurance Corporation) scheme since minimum wages will apply to all such workers. The other highlights are a new portal for collecting data of gig employees, migrant labourers and construction workers. This information will be useful in providing gig workers with health and insurance facilities. Finally, the decision to allow women to work in all these categories as well as in night shifts, backed by suitable safeguards, is most welcome too. Taken together, such measures will streamline the gig economy, transforming it into a more organised sector. Consequently, this should help attract more talent in the coming days.

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