The Supreme Court on Monday sought reply from the Centre on a plea seeking social security benefits for gig workers employed by online food delivery, taxi aggregators, courier applications such as Ola, Uber, Zomato, Swiggy, etc.
Senior advocates Indira Jaising and Gayatri Singh argued for the petitioner, The Indian Federation of app-based Transport Workers (IFAT). It was argued that at present these workers are not being provided the benefit of social security under any of the labour legislations-organised or unorganised. The counsel for petitioners argued that they are seeking a declaration that gig workers were entitled to protection as unorganised workers.
After hearing arguments in the matter, a bench headed by Justice L. Nageswara Rao issued notice on the petition.
Social security benefits to gig workers
Jaising submitted the petitioner seeks a declaration that the drivers or delivery workers are actually workmen in the classical sense of the word, and emphasised that worldwide for Uber they have been considered as workers. During the hearing, the top court cited the new legislation Social Security Code 2020 passed by Parliament last year has a chapter on the welfare of gig workers.
The counsel submitted that the gig workers under existing law, would fall under the unorganised worker.
The plea, filed through advocate Nupur Kumar, said "The Respondents' companies herein have been claiming that there exists no contract of employment between them and the petitioners and that their relationship with the petitioners are in the nature of partnership. If such a claim were to be accepted, this would be inconsistent with the purpose of social-welfare legislations..."
The plea contended that the respondent companies, which own the apps, exercise complete supervision and control over the manner and method of the work with those who are allowed to register on the said apps. "Denial of the social security to the "gig workers" and the "platform workers" is an affront to the workers' right to life and right against forced labour that are secured by Articles 14, 21 and 23 of the Constitution of India", added the plea.