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India’s labour law reforms a threat to gig workers: Extending social security benefits need of hour

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(Express Photo by Arul Horizon)
  • Soumya Jha and Ulka Bhattacharyya

India is currently witnessing the COVID-19 pandemic spreading rapidly. Gig workers, who contribute
significantly to India’s workforce, have in this scenario, either been operating at the forefront, serving
essential needs of the locked-down population, or have travelled back to their native places having no source of income. In either case, gig workers face a future of uncertainty.

While some companies have been providing gig-work partners financial and medical reliefs, in the scenario of an imminent economic recession, immediate measures on part of the government may be needed to stem the immense human costs of this pandemic. A relief package announced by the Union Government in March addressed concerns of organized sector workers and building and construction work, but there is no mention of measures directed at gig workers yet.

This stands in contrast to the approach of other nations. The United States Senate recently passed a stimulus bill creating a ‘Unemployment Assistance Program’ and providing jobless benefits to individuals including gig workers. Canada proposed legislation to establish the ‘Canada Emergency Response Benefit’ to support workers, including the self-employed, and otherwise ineligible for employment insurance.

India last year introduced the draft Social Security Code, 2019, which takes the first step in recognizing the need to provide social security to the unconventional ‘gig’ workforce, operating outside the confines of the traditional employment relationships. The Draft Code is currently under consideration by a Parliamentary Standing Committee on Labour and will likely be enacted soon. With the COVID-19 pandemic bringing into focus the plight of gig workers, the Draft Code requires critical examination by the Standing Committee, to identify and highlight gaps, which need to be addressed, so that the interests of all stakeholders are met.

At a time when labour laws are in the limelight with States creating multiple relaxations in India’s labour law regime, the Draft Code’s potential passage will be a significant development.

Definitional challenges

The Draft Code demonstrates lack of clarity in defining critical terms including ‘aggregator’, ‘gig worker’,
‘platform work’, and ‘platform worker’. A ‘gig worker’, for instance, is defined as someone who ‘earns from such activities outside of traditional employer-employee relationship’, without indicating how exactly a gig worker is identifiable.

Globally, a more nuanced understanding of ‘gig work’ prevails. While the ILO explains it as ‘crowd-work’ or ‘work on-demand via apps’, the State of California has laid down the ‘ABC test’ to identify beneficiaries of work-related rights and protections. The European Parliament, too, passed a Directive on ‘Transparent and predictable working conditions in the European Union’, under which beneficiaries of social security are identified by the duration and nature of their work in a week. Unlike the ABC test and EU Directive, the Draft Code does not lay down any clear test or threshold to identify a ‘gig worker’, the absence of which may be problematic, especially at the time of implementation.

Apart from definitional challenges, the exact status of a ‘gig worker’ remains unclear, since provisions
relating to them mostly fall within the Chapter on ‘Social Security for Unorganized Workers’ under the
Draft Code, while ‘gig worker’ and ‘unorganized worker’ are defined separately, curiously. Resultantly,
provisions on gig workers are spread across the Draft Code, in a fragmented fashion, without much thought for coherence.

Multiple social security mechanisms

The Draft Code seems to contemplate three separate social security mechanisms for gig workers. This is by empowering the Central Government to: frame schemes for gig workers and their families via the ESIC framework, constitute a Social Security Fund for unorganized workers, gig workers and platform workers, and frame social security schemes for gig workers.

While the Draft Code’s likely intent may have been for the proposed Social Security Fund to act as a funding source for the social security schemes, this inter-relationship is unclear presently, and creates avoidable confusion.

The interaction of these frameworks under the Draft Code necessitates clarification now, and not through subsequent subordinate legislation. This is desirable not only for gig workers, but also for aggregators who would require clarity on their exact roles and responsibilities in the operation of the contemplated social security mechanisms.

The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has offered an urgent impetus to the enactment of the Draft Code to
address the immediate concerns of extending social security to gig workers, who are tirelessly operating at the forefront by serving the needs of India’s locked-down population.

Though it still remains to be seen how the Standing Committee examining the Draft Code, addresses
persisting concerns, there is no doubt that there is a pressing need to address the provision of social security benefits to gig workers in a sustainable manner, with roles and responsibilities of all stakeholders clearly and equitably defined. There is no time to waste.

  • Soumya Jha and Ulka Bhattacharyya are Research Fellows at Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas & Co, New Delhi. Views expressed are the authors’ own.

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iPSE-US, SBA, KIVA and ITA Host Gig Economy webinar on access to capital for independent workers in U.S.

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Carl Camden

Carl Camden[1]

Carl Camden, Founder and Chairman of iPSE-US

Paul Thanos

Paul Thanos

Paul Thanos, Director Office of Finance and Insurance Industries US Department of Commerce/International Trade Administration

Roderick Johnson

Roderick Johnson

Roderick Johnson, Lender Relations/SBDC Project Officer at U.S. Small Business Administration

Anne Luftkin

Anne Luftkin, Partnership Manager- Kiva US

Anne Luftkin, Partnership Manager- Kiva US

WASHINGTON, July 09, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — iPSE-U.S. (The Association of Independent Workers) in collaboration with the SBA, Kiva and the ITA announced today at a special webinar event centered around the Gig Economy and access to capital and resources for independent workers. There are approximately 60 million Independent workers in the United States; representing $1.5 trillion in U.S. GDP and growing. Projections estimate that 50% of our US workforce will be independent workers by 2025- 2030.

Event Overview
This will be a joint webinar with the Small Business Administration and iPSE-U.S. – The Association of Independent Workers.

Objectives
The webinar will present an overview of SBA’s programs with a particular eye to programs of interest to independent and gig economy workers (1099 Workers).

Event Information

  • Learn about the available SBA loan programs for independent/gig workers.
  • Learn about fintech-based microloans for independent/gig workers.
  • Learn the challenges facing about independent/gig workers in the current economy, including the COVID-19 impact.
  • Learn about iPSE-US, support the 60 million independent workers with by providing access to over 1 million available gig jobs, access portable benefits programs, financial resources and education tools by being a free member.
  • Ask questions to the presenters and receive answers.

Webinar Agenda
5-7 min: Introduction: ITA (Paul Thanos)

  • Why focused on independent workers and “Gig Economy” 

15 min: Dr. Carl Camden, Founder Chairman – iPSE-U.S.

  • About “Gig Economy” and the addressable market

20 min: SBA Speaker 1 – Overview of SBA Loan Programs for Gig Workers

  • Rod Johnson, Lender Relations Specialist

20 min: Kiva – Microloans for Gig Workers

  • Anne Lufkin, Regional Manager

20 min: Q&A 
5-7 min: Closing/Summary ITA (Colin Leach)

Event Details
Event Title: Access to Financing: SBA Programs for Independent Workers Webinar
Start Time: 10:00 AM EDT
Date: July 9, 2020 
Organizations: ITA/SBA/iPSE-U.S. Kiva
Location: https://emenuapps.ita.doc.gov/ePublic/event/editWebReg.do?SmartCode=0QM3
Hosted By: International Trade Administration (ITA)

About SBA

Created in 1953, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) continues to help small business owners and entrepreneurs pursue the American dream. The SBA is the only cabinet-level federal agency fully dedicated to small business and provides counseling, capital, and contracting expertise as the nation’s only go-to resource and voice for small businesses.

For more information: https://www.sba.gov

About Kiva:

Established in 2005 as the world’s first personal micro-lending website, Kiva’s mission is to expand financial access to help underserved communities thrive. We are working to expand financial access by crowdfunding loans and unlocking capital for the underserved, improving the quality and cost of financial services, and addressing the underlying barriers to financial access around the world. Since its founding, Kiva has raised a combined $1.4B for loans for more than 3.6M entrepreneurs in 94 countries.

For more information: https://www.kiva.org

About the International Trade Administration (ITA)
The International Trade Administration (ITA) is the premier resource for American companies competing in the global marketplace. ITA has more than 2,200 employees assisting U.S. exporters in more than 100 U.S. cities and 75 markets worldwide. ITA works to improve the global business environment and helps U.S. organizations compete at home and abroad.

ITA works with its Strategic Partners in support of ITA’s mission to strengthen the competitiveness of U.S. industry, promote trade and investment, and ensure fair trade through the rigorous enforcement of our trade laws and agreements. Partnership activities help to grow the U.S. exporter base, educate the public about the benefits of international trade, and increase awareness of ITA and other government resources available to assist exporters and investors.

For more information visit: www.trade.gov

About iPSE-U.S.
iPSE-U.S., “The National Association of Independent Workers” is not-for-profit membership organization that aggregates and provides insurance and benefits products, access to over 1 million gig jobs and directories, financial services, educational tools for independent workers of all types. iPSE-U.S. supports advocacy initiatives and secures benefits programs specifically for 1099 Independent Workers; Contractors, Consultants, Freelancers, Self-Employed, Gig Workers, Small Business Owners and the newly unemployed who are seeking gig-work.

iPSE-U.S. offers a free membership program to honor the over 60 million independent workers; individuals, small, medium and large organizations that make up the gig-economy. iPSE-U.S. provides enterprise HR workforce solutions to support their uninsured 1099 Independent Workers with portable benefits programs in collaboration providers including; iWorker Innovations and others.

For more information:  www.iPSE.us | LinkedIn | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Sign-Up Free

CONTACTS

Communication Contact:
Matt Bird 
Chief Strategy Officer 
CommPro Worldwide
+1 646.401.4499
matt@commpro.com

Photos accompanying this announcement are available at: 

https://www.globenewswire.com/NewsRoom/AttachmentNg/c60a91db-2499-4a78-a1a6-a43dc92cae2b

https://www.globenewswire.com/NewsRoom/AttachmentNg/50829446-8569-4817-ace1-58d0d5d2fa66

https://www.globenewswire.com/NewsRoom/AttachmentNg/0cc07951-7641-4179-b046-7780d5833970

https://www.globenewswire.com/NewsRoom/AttachmentNg/28ce3147-9aa6-4ce1-8510-affb61227786

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Wrestling news: WWE’s Mike ‘The Miz’ Mizanin lands new TV gig

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SI.com’s Week in Wrestling is published every week and provides beneath the surface coverage of the business of pro wrestling.

Mike “The Miz” Mizanin: John Morrison ‘will be WWE Champion, and it’s my goal to get him there’

Mike “The Miz” Mizanin won the WWE Championship in November 2010 when he cashed in his “Money in the Bank” contract against Randy Orton. A decade later, he is looking to create a similar moment for John Morrison.

“John will be WWE Champion, and it’s my goal to get him there,” said Mizanin. “He would be an outstanding WWE Champion. Some of the stuff he can do is incredible, he’s so entertaining. He’s a friend that has my back, and I have his, too.”



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Only 7% gig economy workers are registered with Socso

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More workers should register to benefit from the protection provided under Penjana Gig

by DASHVEENJIT KAUR/ pic by HUSSEIN SHAHARUDDIN

AWARENESS level among gig workers on the importance of having social and financial protection is still low, as only 7% or 28,425 gig economy workers are registered with the Social Security Organisation (Socso) so far.

Finance Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz (picture) said the government hopes that more workers will contribute to Socso to benefit from the protection provided under the short-term National Economy Recovery Plan (Penjana) Gig.

“According to Socso, from January 2020 until now, only 28,425 (7%) gig economy workers out of their target of 400,000 workers are registered with Socso,” he said when presenting the 11th report of the Prihatin Rakyat economic stimulus package and Penjana yesterday.

“At a cost of RM232.80 annually, the government subsidises 70% (RM163) and 30% (RM69.80) is provided by the platform provider,” he added.

To promote the gig economy and provide a social safety net system for the gig economy and informal sector workforce, the minister said the government would facilitate policies to support the growth of the gig economy and the welfare of its workers through several initiatives and funds under Penjana.

The funds include a matching grant of up to RM50 million for gig economy platforms who contribute to their gig workers towards Socso’s employment injury scheme of up to RM162 and Employees Provident Fund’s (EPF) i-Saraan contribution of up to RM250 yearly.

Additionally, there would be RM25 million for the Malaysia Digital Economy Corp’s (MDEC) Global Online Workforce (GLOW) programme, which will train Malaysians to earn income from serving international clients while working from home online.

Tengku Zafrul said he has also had the opportunity to meet with some of the workers and employers who benefitted from the Penjana Gig Programme and its social security.

“Under the Penjana Gig initiative, several engagement sessions were held with agriculture, hawkers, passenger transportation, goods and food sectors, and over 38 gig platform service providers.

“Alhamdulillah (God willing), the assistance received was effective and has helped to ease the burden of business cashflow, as well as save jobs,” he explained.

My30 Programme and PenjanaKerjaya

Highlighting other Penjana initiatives, Tengku Zafrul shared that as at June 30, a total of 77,790 of My30 unlimited monthly travel passes for commuters in the Klang Valley had been sold.

“The government’s subsidy for these passes is valued at RM13.2 million,” he said.

Secondly, as of July 6, 2020, the PenjanaKerjaya, which is the hiring incentive and training assistance programme, with a government allocation of RM1.5 billion, have seen 106,308 job vacancies advertised, and 123,919 job seekers were registered through the MYFutureJobs initiative.

Bantuan Prihatin Nasional (BPN)

Achieved a 97.5% implementation rate, with the total number of BPN recipients stood at 10.25 million, valuing at RM10.92 billion.

Between June 26 and July 6, around 30,000 BPN recipients received their payments via Bank Simpanan Nasional branches nationwide. As for the BPN appellants group, 140,000 single individuals and households had received the BPN assistance amounting to RM120 million from an allocation of RM139 million.

Cash Incentives for Taxi Drivers, Tour Guides and Tour Bus Drivers

As at July 6, the government had assisted 28,962 taxi drivers amounting to RM17.4 million for recipients from the first phase.

For the second phase recipients, the appeal date was closed on July 1, and the appeals are currently under review with payment expected to be made in mid-July.

Additionally, 7,414 tour guides received RM4.4 million cash aid. The status of tour bus drivers are still being updated and the result will be announced by the end of this month.

Prihatin Special Grant for Micro SMEs

Total disbursement as of Monday was approximately RM1.63 billion, benefitting 544,632 Micro small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

Wage Subsidy Programme

RM7.15 billion had been approved for 310,622 employers benefitting more than 2.48 million employees up till this week.

Socso has been entrusted with the implementation of RM17 billion worth of measures.

EPF’s Covid-19 Assistance Programme

Has seen 37,900 receivers and 10,528 applications approved, amounting to RM70.4 million in terms of employers’ contribution.

SME Soft Loan Funds

Administered by Bank Negara Malaysia, the fund have had total financing amounting to RM8.7 billion approved by local banks and officially accepted by SMEs, and this has benefitted 20,104 SMEs.

Loan Repayment Moratorium by Financial Institutions

The moratorium, which took effect on April 1, 2020, has an estimated value of RM51.4 billion as of this week.

Out of this figure, a total of RM17.9 billion was utilised by the business sector while the remaining was utilised by the rakyat.



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