The RGW Bill: A Game-Changer for Gig Workers in Rajasthan
In a historic move, the state of Rajasthan has introduced the Rajasthan Platform-based Gig Workers (Registration and Welfare) Bill, 2023, hereinafter referred to as the “RGW Bill”. This trailblazing legislation is the first state-level initiative of its kind in India, aimed at transforming the gig economy by ensuring minimum social security for gig workers. Rajasthan houses an estimated 300,000 gig workers, and the new law is set to directly affect their livelihoods.
This development emerges alongside the delayed implementation of the Code on Social Security 2020 at the federal level. The finance budget speech of 2023-24 also highlighted the enactment of a Gig Workers Welfare Act, establishment of a Gig Workers Welfare Board, and the creation of a Gig Workers Welfare and Development Fund.
The Gig Workers (Registration and Welfare) Bill, 2023 (RGW Bill) has set the stage for a comprehensive and holistic approach to the welfare of gig workers.
Breaking Down the RGW Bill
The RGW Bill defines gig workers as individuals engaged in gig work on an agreed rate and contractual terms. It encompasses a broad range of jobs, including piece-rate work. The Bill introduces several new terms:
- ‘Primary Employer’ as “those individuals or organizations who directly engage platform-based gig workers for a particular task against payment”
- ‘Aggregator’ being a “digital intermediary for a buyer or a user of a service to connect with the seller or the service provider, and includes any entity that coordinates with one or more aggregators for providing the services”4
- ‘Workplace’ being “the physical place of carrying out the gig work”
Gig Workers Welfare Board: The Vanguard of Gig Workers’ Rights
The RGW Bill proposes the creation of the Rajasthan Platform-based Gig Workers Welfare Board. Chaired by the state’s labor minister, the board will be composed of principal secretaries, representatives from gig workers, aggregators, and civil society members. A significant inclusion is that at least one-third of the Board will be women.
The Board is endowed with the following responsibilities:
- Registering gig workers, aggregators, and primary employers.
- Ensuring integration of monetary levies into aggregators’ applications.
- Notifying social security schemes for registered gig workers.
- Facilitating accessibility of services per notified social security scheme.
- Holding consultations with trade unions working with gig workers.
- Nominating individuals to act on behalf of registered gig workers in legal matters.
The Board is mandated to develop general schemes for gig workers, including accidental insurance, medical emergencies, gratuity, social security, pension, insurance, and scholarships. Monetary benefits will be transferred via direct benefits transfer (DBT).
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The Gig Workers’ Welfare Fund: Safeguarding the Future
The RGW Bill proposes the constitution of the Rajasthan Platform-Based Gig Workers Social Security and Welfare Fund, which will be supported by cess, contributions from gig workers, and state government grants.
A notable feature is the Platform Based Gig Workers Welfare Cess, which will be levied on customers of the aggregator or primary employer.
Empowering Gig Workers: Rights and Grievance Redressal
The RGW Bill empowers gig workers by granting them:
- The right to be registered with the Board.
- Access to social security schemes.
- A time-bound grievance redressal mechanism.
- Participation in welfare decisions through representatives.
Furthermore, the Board can recover arrears payable through the district collector. Gig workers can file petitions against grievances regarding their benefits.
Tracking and monitoring are facilitated through the Central Transaction Information System, which will map all payments generated by platforms.
Penalties and Compliance
Aggregators contravening the law could face a fine up to INR 1 million for the first contravention and up to INR 10 million for subsequent contraventions. They may also be directed to suspend operations temporarily or permanently. Other individuals violating the law could face penalties up to INR 1 million.
The Road Ahead: Balancing Rights and Obligations
The introduction of the Gig Workers (Registration and Welfare) Bill, 2023 (RGW Bill) marks a monumental step in acknowledging the need for the social security of gig workers in India. However, the law needs to clearly delineate the actual benefits and the responsibility of aggregators and primary employers.
Additionally, with the forthcoming implementation of federal laws, it’s imperative to ensure that state and federal regulations work cohesively. The RGW Bill may also reshape the gig economy landscape by possibly deterring aggregators and platform companies due to increased liabilities.
In conclusion, the Gig Workers (Registration and Welfare) Bill, 2023 is a pioneering initiative that warrants careful implementation and review to effectively uphold the welfare of gig workers in Rajasthan and potentially set a benchmark for other states in India.
What’s the Big Buzz about Rajasthan’s New Gig Worker Law?
Rajasthan has introduced a groundbreaking state-level law, the RGW Bill, to ensure social security and welfare for gig workers, making it the first Indian state to do so.
How Will This Law Change the Lives of Gig Workers in Rajasthan?
The RGW Bill guarantees gig workers registration with a welfare board, access to social security schemes, grievance redressal mechanisms, and participation in welfare decisions.
What’s the Role of the Gig Workers Welfare Board?
The Welfare Board will register gig workers, notify social security schemes, ensure monetary levies integration, and hold consultations with trade unions for gig workers’ rights.