GIG ECONOMY- A BOOMING ERA
In today’s world where the job pressure is acutely high, everything is hectic and extremely time bound, the idea of working for flexible hours, being more independent and getting the time and freedom in a job seems so surreal that people are actually getting to do this by pursuing “gig jobs”.
Basically a gig job is where a worker works as a freelancer or a contractual worker and the individual gets paid per job rather than being paid regular salary.
As a gig worker we get lots of boons than an employee in the sense that we get to choose our working hours, where we get to work from, the companies we want to work with and can work for multiple companies simultaneously.
In the recent years these short-term jobs have seen an exceptional rise due to digitalization, most of the workforce has become more mobile and the work can be done through digital platforms from all over the world. People now want to get out of their monotonous 9 to 5 jobs working with a single firm and try out new jobs to sharpen their knowledge, skills and widen their experience with different companies and gig jobs give them an opportunity to do so. Participation in gig economy rose rapidly during the hit of COVID-19 pandemic when both blue- collar jobs and white-collar jobs faced a major setback and many people got thrown out of their regular salary paying jobs. This is when people took the help of various gig jobs for their primary earning and even many people took up these jobs as their secondary source of income because of pay cuts in their daily occupation. Also during this pandemic the need of online services has increased which has increased the number of gig workers to accomplish various services like home delivery of daily necessities to the consumers thus increasing the job opportunities in this sector. Even start-up companies like Zomato, Airbnb, Ola, Swiggy and others have started to hire gig workers rather than hiring full time employees as it removes their overhead costs and the fixed salary amounts. Start-ups are also looking for skilled technology freelancers to boost their tech platforms. This does not stop at start-ups even MNC’s have started flexible hiring options to reduce their expenses post pandemic period. People have started their own ventures to earn some extra profit like being an online financial consultant or writing blogs and various other activities. As per an AON survey 49% of 145 surveyed companies have already employed gig workers and 65% plans to increase this over the next 2-5 years. In all, today India has a total of 130 million freelance workers spread across various fields, with many more expected to join in the coming years. These trends are therefore significantly contributing towards the gig culture in India.
In the current times even after having a steady salary from primary jobs, people still prefer to add another source of income, this passive source of income is generally considered important. Just being dependent on one job is not sufficient unless the pay is extremely high and millennials and gen Z seem to understand this concept. High school students have started performing part-time jobs like being a cashier or a dog walker to get their income started. College going students can also freelance on the internet without the fear of missing classes as the gig work takes it out of the equation by providing flexible timings and giving proper breaks as and when necessary. Whereas college graduates who struggle to get employed at entry level jobs demanding at least 2-4 years of experience can easily apply for gig jobs as most of the jobs require none of these requirements. Young artists can sell their graphic designs through various platforms online and even design WebPages for people. Thus, unlike various traditional platforms, the gig economy welcomes the inexperienced and young people with open arms with the main objective, being focusing on their skills. Not only young people but gig economy serves as an attraction to the senior population who might not be wanting to get retired or might not have enough money to afford retirement. A survey revealed that almost one-third of seniors have no emergency savings. Seniors are still recovering from the economic downturn and the only way to combat this is by entering soft retirement. This means that a person does not have to work for 40 hours a week but does not completely stop and gig jobs fits this schedule. They can work as consultants, join Ola and Uber as part-time drivers, and write blogs and various other jobs. Women are also greatly benefited from these freelancing jobs as most of the housewives in India face problems to take time out for jobs due to household responsibilities .Therefore, the feature of flexible timings in gig jobs makes it easier for women to pursue it. Apart from all these gains a factor of fear still remains in the minds of people. Things are not completely as straightforward as they seem, as gig economy still remains a comparatively new concept and is in the early stages of its growth. Moreover this gig economy largely thrives unregulated, thus leaving many of the workers with little job security and benefits. Adding to that, India’s visible digital divide further deepens the gap between rural and urban population in having a chance to work in such conditions. Many even argue that this culture in India has become an extension of India’s informal labour sector that remains unorganized for most of its part and that the concept of gig economy has been applied accurately only in developed economies where, there exist strong social support systems and all work is treated equally. Thus to remove such barriers, government of India has passed the ‘Code on Social Security,2020’ which will serve as an aid to gig workers by providing workers with life and disability cover, accidental insurance, health and maternity benefits, old age protection and other benefits. Under this code, the central and state governments will primarily fund social security measures with a nominal contribution by the aggregator. While the government has taken an important step to ensure social security of gig workers, the ‘Code on Social Security, 2020’ needs to be fine-tuned to ensure proper growth in the sector. For example, the option to deduct 5% from the amount payable to gig workers should be voluntary. By - Himanshi Gandhi