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Gig workers have become an indispensable part of India’s labor force, especially when it comes to “fast” commercial services. According to HR solutions company TeamLease Services, “fast” commerce companies hired 70,000 to 80,000 gig workers in FY22. While gig workers now form a large part of the labor market, they are deprived of most of the benefits offered to full-time employees, forcing them out of their jobs within months of joining.
As a result, ‘fast’ trade businesses are facing a shortage of gig workers and the immediate fallout has been inefficiency and delays in service delivery. This is mainly due to the fact that gig workers face several challenges including the risk to their lives as they strive to deliver the products on time, poor wages and extreme working conditions such as recent heat wave. These and other negative factors lead to health problems, absenteeism and job changes.
While it’s laudable that “fast” trade companies are hiring gig workers in large numbers, they would do well to treat them first as much as possible on equal footing with their full-time employees. That will mean providing gig workers with a host of benefits, none more urgently needed than health insurance. Many of these workers have little or no savings, which can be very stressful for them and their families in the event of a medical emergency. Like a investigation conducted by the Indian Federation of App-Based Transport Workers (IFAT) in collaboration with the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) revealed that an alarming 95.3% of contract workers employed in startups and owned to economy gigs have no form of insurance, sickness or accident.
The top priority for “fast” trade companies is to provide on-demand workers with health insurance. Here are the four most important insurance plans any “fast” trade company should offer gig workers to improve their quality of life, retain them in the job market, and attract newcomers.
Term life insurance: The ongoing pandemic has led to an increase in flexible employment as people turn to on-demand or freelance work. With reduced job security, the safety net of a term life insurance policy can be extremely comforting and provide peace of mind. Although group life insurance barely provides enough coverage for people with families or other dependents, it still offers a certain level of protection and is worth buying.
How can this be used in India? Insurance companies specializing in employee health insurance in India can help fast trading companies with comprehensive medical coverage of up to INR 3 lakh for their construction workers with no sublimits per sickness, AYUSH and coverage hospitalization at home, no co – sub-limits or ceilings depending on earnings or illness.
Group health insurance: Fast trade companies should consider including gig workers in their group health insurance (GHI) plans. GHI proves beneficial to both employer and employees and has many advantages over retail health insurance products. For employers, GHI is 100% tax deductible. This means that businesses receive full tax deductions under various sections of the Income Tax Act when paying for employee health care. While, for on-demand workers, there are benefits such as no waiting period, pre-existing condition coverage, and the inclusion of comprehensive healthcare packages that include coverage for preventative treatments and curative.
Personal accident: Construction workers move around a lot, from one task or job to another, which puts them in the high-risk category for road accidents, physical injuries and disability. A personal accident insurance policy covers medical costs in the event of an accident as well as in the event of temporary or permanent incapacity. It also offers financial security to the family of the insured in the event of their death following the accident.
Income protection: Since the on-demand workers of “fast” commerce companies spend a lot of time on the road to ensure fast service delivery, they are prone to health problems. The income protection guarantee provides the insured with a regular income in the event of a health problem or accident, and until he returns to work.
The retention rate in “fast” trade companies is decreasing, as gig workers change jobs within two to three months. One way to motivate them to stay is to let them know that they are as important to the company as full-time employees. “Quick” trade companies can do this by offering jobsite workers attractive benefits, starting with adequate health insurance and showing that they care.