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Social Security code expands reach to informal, gig and platform workers also

The preamble of the Code on Social Security bill 2020 introduced in the Lok Sabha clearly mentioned the intention of the Govt. to unversalise social securityfor all including informal,gig and platform workers unlike the previous version of the bill introduced a year back,which was replaced by new one.

However, the code suffers from specifics on this front. The wordings in the bill leave a lot of space for the rule making process, and whether and how this will be executed. The rule making process starts after an act is passed in the parliament and is an executive action than a legislative action, thus considered smoky.

The bill says, the central government shall formulate and notify, from time to time, suitable welfare schemes for unorganised workers on matters relating to life and disability cover, health and maternity benefits, old age protection; education; and (v) any other benefit as may be determined by the Central government.

It also says that states shall formulate and notify, from time to time, suitable welfare schemes for unorganised workers, including schemes relating to provident fund; employment injury benefit; housing; educational schemes for children; skill upgradation of workers; funeral assistance; and old age homes. It means, states will perhaps play a bigger role in expanding the social security benefits.

The social security code bill says any scheme notified by the union government may be wholly funded by the centre, or partly funded by the Central Government and partly funded by the state government; or partly funded by the Central Government, partly funded by the State Government and partly funded through contributions collected from the beneficiaries of the scheme or the employers as may be specified in the scheme"

The bill also says it may also tap corporate social responsibility fund within the meaning of the Companies Act, 2013 or any other such source as may be specified in the scheme.

Talking about the gig and platform workers benefit, the bill seeks to provide for framing of schemes for gig workers and platform workers by the Central Government on matters relating to life and disability cover; accident insurance; health and maternity benefits; old age protection; crche; and any other benefit as may be determined by the Central Government. It further provides that the scheme may be wholly funded by the Central Government; or partly funded by the Central Government and partly funded by the State Government".

The code, talks about establishing a National Social Security Board which shall recommend to the central government for formulating suitable schemes for different sections of unorganised workers, gig workers and platform workers. The board shall also advise, the central government on such matters arising out of the administration of this Code as may be referred to itmonitor such social welfare schemes for unorganised workers, gig workers and platform workers as are administered by the central governmentreview the record keeping functions performed at the state leveland undertake such other functions as are assigned to it by the central government from time to time."