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RIGHTS OF THE DELIVERY PARTNERS OF ZOMATO AND SWIGGY IN LIGHT OF THE SOCIAL SECURITY CODE, 2020

INTRODUCTION

Never in history, have we imagined that food will come to our doorsteps by simply clicking a few times. Technology has made our impossible imagination into reality. Recent years have seen the emergence of meal delivery businesses as important jobs in urban and peri-urban areas. Through a workforce of delivery personnel, these systems make it easier for restaurants to serve food to customers.[1] Delivery workers are not regarded as ‘traditional employees’ as they are independent contractors as their service is mostly paid. The timing is not predetermined. It works on the theory of more service will amount to more money. Zomato has 285,000 delivery partners in India and Swiggy has almost 2,50,000 delivery partners in India.

PROBLEMS OF DELIVERY PARTNERS IN INDIA

  • Lengthy workdays: Delivery partners are required to put in long shifts, often at uncomfortable times, which can be detrimental to their ability to balance work and personal responsibilities and general well-being.[2]
  • Lack of job security: Delivery partners believe that their jobs are in jeopardy because they are frequently classified as contract workers and may not be entitled to the same rights and benefits as traditional employees.

A study conducted by the India branch of the Fair Work Foundation, called Fair Work India, examined the employment conditions on 11 different platforms in India and found that wages have decreased and working conditions are poor. The market leaders in India for food delivery, Swiggy and Zomato, were determined to have the lowest track record, only earning 1 point out of a possible 10.[3] During her 2021 budget speech, India’s Finance Minister, Nirmala Sitharaman, announced that minimum wages would be established for all workers, including those working on platforms.[4] The government previously set the national minimum wage at Rs 178 per day through the Code on Wages in 2019, which is slightly higher than the minimum wage from 2017 but much lower than the Rs 375 recommended by an expert committee established to evaluate the process of determining a national minimum wage.[5]

THE SOCIAL SECURITY CODE, 2020

The Code on Social Security, 2020 is a law that modifies and brings together different laws related to social security. to extend social protection to all workers and employees in all industries, to both organized and unorganized sectors. The new code seeks to establish distinct categories of workers beyond the conventional definition of ’employee’ to extend benefits typically associated with traditional employment. 

FEATURES

  1. Expanding the coverage of social security benefits to include gig and platform workers. These groups of workers will now be eligible for benefits including pensions, gratuities, and insurance that they were not previously entitled to under the current social security legislation. The code calls for the creation of a Social Security Fund that will be responsible for making payments which will be advantageous for gig and platform workers.

Who are Gig Workers?

Section 2 (35) of the code[6] defines a gig worker as “a person who performs work or participates in a work arrangement and earns from such activities outside of the traditional employer-employee relationship.”

  1. Establishing a National Social Security Board (NSSB) to recommend and monitor suitable programs designed to support gig workers’ needs. The scheme (disability cover, education, insurance for accidents, healthcare and maternity coverage, retirement support, and childcare facilities.) will also cover the family members of the gig workers. In order to avail these benefits, delivery partners must register themselves on an online platform established by the central government. The plans may be financed by a mix of funding from the national government, state governments, and grocery-related service providers (defined as “aggregators”) at a fee not surpassing 2% but not less than 1% of the aggregator’s annual turnover.
  2. Similar Rights as that of permanent employee- Delivery partners affiliated with Swiggy and Zomato will now be entitled to the same benefits such as the right to a safe workplace and adequate pay as permanent employees if the nature of their work is similar.
  3. Employees’ Provident Fund (EPF)- With the amendments brought about by this code, every establishment with 20 or more employees is now subject to the EPF scheme’s application. 
  4. Furthermore, the code includes provisions for the establishment of a Universal Social Security System, which will offer a minimum level of social security benefits to all workers, including Zomato and Swiggy delivery partners. This system will include perks including an old-age pension, insurance, and health and maternity benefits.

CONCLUSION

However, there have been allegations of delivery partners associated with companies like Zomato and Swiggy experiencing various challenges such as delayed payments, lack of insurance coverage, and safety concerns. It is imperative for these businesses to ensure that the rights and benefits of their delivery partners are safeguarded in light of the Social Security Code, 2020[7]. This includes prompt payments, guaranteeing a safe and secure working environment, and providing adequate insurance protection. The Social Security Code, 2020 has been a major step forward in providing gig workers, including delivery partners of Zomato and Swiggy, with much-needed rights and benefits. However, it’s crucial for businesses to take responsibility to ensure that these rights are upheld and that the delivery partners receive fair compensation, safe working conditions, and proper insurance coverage. This not only improves the working environment for the delivery partners but also helps to build trust and a sense of security among them, which in turn, can lead to better performance and retention of the delivery partners.

Author(s) Name: Samridhi Dhir (Chaudhary Charan Singh)

References:

[1] Ashreef Iqubbal, ‘Food Delivery Workers In India: Emerging Entrepreneurs Of Informal Labour’ (2021) chrome-extension://efaidnbmnnnibpcajpcglclefindmkaj/https://defindia.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/swiggy-zomato-delivery-workers-india-entrepreneurs-labour.pdf accessed on 24 January 2023

[2] Tanishka Sodhi, ‘We are slaves to them’: Zomato, Swiggy delivery workers speak up against unfair practices’ (2021) https://www.newslaundry.com/2021/08/14/we-are-slaves-to-them-zomato-swiggy-delivery-workers-speak-up-against-unfair-practices accessed on 24 January 2023

[3] Fairwork  ‘Fairwork India Ratings 2020: Labour Standards in the Platform Economy.’(2020) https://indianexpress.com/article/india/budget-2021-esic-other-social-security-safety-nets-to-cover-gig-economy-workers-7170725/  accessed on 24 January 2023

[4] Aryan, A. (2021). ‘ESIC, other social security safety nets to cover gig economy workers. Indian Express’. (2021) https:// indianexpress.com/article/india/budget-2021-esic-other-social-securitysafety-nets-to-cover-gig-economy-workers-7170725/ accessed on 25 January 2023

[5] Prashant K, Nanda, ‘375 minimum wage plan junked as government opts for 2 hikes.’ https://www.livemint.com/news/india/rs-375-minimum-wage-plan-junked-as-govt-opts-for-rs-2-hike-1563035733771.html accessed on 25 January 2023

[6] The Code on Social Security, 2020, s. 2(35)

[7] The Code on Social Security, 2020