Study Reveals Struggles of Gig Workers: Long Hours, Safety Concerns, and Unfair Pay

In a comprehensive survey encompassing over 5,000 gig and platform workers across 32 cities in India, startling revelations have emerged regarding the working conditions and challenges faced by these individuals. The study, conducted by Janpahal, a Delhi-based NGO, sheds light on the realities of gig work, highlighting issues such as long working hours, safety concerns, and inadequate pay.

According to the findings, a staggering 85% of gig workers reported working more than eight hours a day, with 21% toiling for over 12 hours daily. This relentless work schedule takes a toll on their physical and mental well-being and underscores the pervasive nature of overwork in the gig economy.

Moreover, the survey revealed that a significant proportion of female gig workers, constituting 65% of respondents, expressed feeling unsafe in their jobs. This alarming statistic underscores the urgent need for measures to enhance the safety and security of women in the gig workforce.

One of the report’s key recommendations is the reclassification of gig, platform, and e-commerce workers. The term “gig” implies short-term engagements, which is often not the case for many workers in these sectors. Instead, the report advocates for the designation of “e-commerce workers,” reflecting the integral role they play in facilitating last-mile deliveries, which are essential for the functioning of e-commerce platforms.

Furthermore, the study emphasizes implementing regulations to ensure fair and transparent payment structures for gig workers. Many workers risk being underpaid or exploited by companies, highlighting the need for safeguards to protect their rights and livelihoods.

Among the proposed regulatory measures is the stipulation of regular working hours, beyond which platforms must provide overtime pay. Additionally, the report advocates for enforcing a minimum wage for platform workers, providing them with a fixed income component to mitigate income volatility.

Addressing workers’ concerns about blocked IDs and inadequate compensation, the report calls for the prohibition of practices that arbitrarily restrict workers’ access to platforms. It also urges platforms to respond to worker demands, including reducing commission charges and providing separate payments for expenses such as fuel bills.

The study also reveals the longevity of gig work among respondents, with a significant portion having been drivers or riders for several years. This challenges the perception of gig work as a temporary or short-term endeavor, highlighting the need for sustained support and protection for workers in this sector.

Overall, the survey underscores the pressing need for reforms to address the myriad challenges faced by gig workers, ranging from excessive working hours to safety concerns and inadequate compensation. As the gig economy expands, policymakers, regulators, and companies must prioritize the well-being and rights of gig workers to ensure a fair and equitable workplace for all.