Need for Workers on Digital Platforms Surge in India

As per a recent report compiled by the International Labour Organisation (ILO), there has been a steady rise in the number of workers India has been supplying globally across the digital platforms. India has become the largest job supplier in terms of workers on online platforms.

In the latest report, ‘World Employment and Social Outlook 2021’, the need for online-platform work from 2018 to 2020 emerged mainly from the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, and Australia, among others. A significant proportion of this work is being done by the developing countries, led by the workers in India; it accounts for around 20% of the total share.

ILO divides online platform work into creative and multimedia, software development and technology, translation and writing, clerical and data entry, professional services, sales and marketing support. 

As per the ILO report, India has been the largest supplier of workers globally; India’s share of worker supply has increased by around 8% between 2018 and 2020. On the other hand, the labour supply has dwindled in other developing countries, with Ukraine exception. 

India has also witnessed an increase in the supply of workers amidst creative and multimedia services. The count of web-based platforms worldwide has seen a threefold increase over the last decade. The count of delivery and taxi platforms has increased almost 10 times what it was before. The count of all such platforms increased from 142 (in 2010) to more than 777 (in 2020) as per the ILO data. Most of these platforms were either micro or small enterprises since they comprised less than 50 employees.

Globally, online labour platforms have generated a minimum of $52 billion in 2019. Nevertheless, ILO has highlighted the challenges that such workers are facing. Here challenges include – regularity of work and income, social protection, working conditions, freedom of association, utilisation of skills, and the right to collective bargaining.

As per ILO, there is no social security coverage for most workers concerning the ‘digital labour platforms’ since there are prominent gaps in insurance and pension-related benefits. The absence of social security coverage has resulted in all platform workers facing testing times during the COVID-19 pandemic, especially for those who work out of location-based platforms.

The ILO report has also highlighted the models employed by several other countries in rendering protection to such kinds of workers while mentioning the Code on Social Security 2020, which has been approved by the Indian Parliament recently. The new law is yet to be notified and will give social security protection to both platform and gig workers by initiating a fund via contribution via firms.

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