Supreme Court seeks Centre’s reply on plea for social security benefits to gig workers

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The Supreme Court on Monday sought the Centre’s response to a plea seeking social security benefits for gig workers employed by food delivery and taxi apps like Zomato and Uber and their recognition as unorganised workers.

A bench headed by Justice L Nageswara Rao issued notice on the petition filed by ‘The Indian Federation of App-based Transport Workers (IFAT)’, representing these workers.

The plea contended that companies engaging gig workers “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” and added that “if such a claim were to be accepted, this would be inconsistent with the purpose of social-welfare legislation…”

It said denial of social security to these workers has led to their exploitation through forced labour within the meaning of Article 23 of the Constitution and added that “the right to livelihood includes the right to work on decent and fair conditions of work”.

Appearing for the petitioners, Senior Advocate Indira Jaisingh sought a declaration that the drivers or delivery workers are actually workmen in the classical sense of the word. She pointed out that in the case of Uber employees, they have been considered as workers internationally.

During the course of the hearing, the bench, also comprising Justice B R Gavai, referred to the Social Security Code passed by the Parliament in 2020, which brought gig and platform workers also in its ambit. The code itself is yet to be implemented as the Rules framed under it have not been notified.

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