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Employment ambit may be widened to include gig and platform workers

The government is considering tweaking how it defines 'employment' to widen coverage to include new forms of the workforce, including gig and platform workers and Anganwadi workers, ahead of a new national policy that will seek to ensure a fair deal to workers according to a report published in Economic Times.

The need for a revised and comprehensive definition of employment is being felt because of the evolving forms of employment in India, a senior government official told ET.

"The new form of workers, including gig and platform workers, need to be factored in when the government comes up with India's first National Employment Policy," the official said on condition of anonymity.

The revised definition is expected to address the widespread issue of disguised employment, under which workers are denied rightful dues as their work is not covered in India's current definition of employment.

Under the new policy and the revamped definition, the employers' liability may rise in terms of minimum wages, weekly rest and annual leaves, along with other worker-related benefits.

The Industrial Relations Code, 2020 defines 'employee' as any person (other than an apprentice engaged under the Apprentices Act, 1961) employed by an industrial establishment to do any skilled, semi-skilled or unskilled, manual, operational, supervisory, managerial, administrative, technical or clerical work for hire or reward while an 'employer' means a person who employs, whether directly or through any person, or on his behalf or on behalf of any person, one or more employee or worker in his establishment.

This definition assumes an employer-employee relationship, which may be missing in some of the newer jobs.

The International Labour Organization (ILO) has been advocating that nations look beyond the conventional definition of employment. In its Employment Relationship Recommendation, 2006, the ILO had said that "for the national policy for the protection of workers in an employment relationship, the determination of the existence of such a relationship should be guided primarily by the facts relating to the performance of work and the remuneration of the worker, notwithstanding how the relationship is characterised in any contrary arrangement, contractual or otherwise, that may have been agreed between the parties".

Labour expert KR Shyam Sundar said, "Keeping the ILO conventions and recommendations in mind and structural changes taking place in the labour market, it is important to include not only the mainstream employment but also include all forms of gainful and productive work and employment which may not be covered by the traditional employer and employee relationship."