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Gig workers have emerged as an indispensable part of India’s workforce, especially where ‘quick’ commerce services are concerned. According to HR solutions firm TeamLease Services, ‘quick’ commerce companies hired 70,000-80,000 gig workers in FY22. While gig workers now constitute a significant part of the labour market, they are deprived of most of the benefits available to full-time employees, forcing them to leave their jobs within months of joining.
As a result, ‘quick’ commerce companies are witnessing a shortage of gig workers and the immediate fallout of that has been inefficiency and delay in service delivery. This is primarily because gig workers face several challenges including the risk to their lives as they strive to deliver products on time, poor wages and extreme working conditions such as the recent heat wave. These and other negative factors are resulting in health issues, absenteeism and job changes.
While it is commendable that ‘quick’ commerce companies are hiring gig workers in large numbers, they would do well to first treat them as far as possible on par with their full-time employees. This will mean providing the gig workers with a host of employee benefits, none more pressing than health insurance. Many of these workers have little or no savings, which can be highly stressful for them and their families in times of a medical emergency. As one survey conducted by the Indian Federation of App-based Transport Workers (IFAT) in collaboration with International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) revealed, an alarming 95.3 per cent of contract workers employed in startups and belonging to the gig economy do not have any form of insurance, health or accident.
The foremost priority for ‘quick’ commerce companies is to provide gig workers with health insurance. Here are the four most important insurance plans that every ‘quick’ commerce company should offer gig workers so as to improve their quality of life, retain them in the workforce and attract newcomers.
Term life insurance: The ongoing pandemic has led to an increase in flexible employment as people are turning to gig or freelance work. With decreased job security, the safety net of a term life insurance policy can be extremely comforting and provide peace of mind. Although group life insurance hardly offers enough coverage for people with families or other dependents, it still provides some level of protection and is worth opting into.
How can this be availed in India? Insurance companies that specialize in employee Health Insurance in India, can help quick-commerce companies with a comprehensive medical cover of upto INR 3 lakh for their gig-workers, with no disease-wise sub-limits, AYUSH and domiciliary hospitalization coverage, no co-pay or disease-wise sub-limits or capping.
Group health insurance: Quick commerce companies should look at including gig-workers in their group health insurance (GHI) plans. GHI proves beneficial for both employer and employees and has many benefits over the retail health insurance products. For employers, GHI is 100 per cent tax deductible. This means companies get complete tax deduction benefits under various sections of the Income Tax Act when they pay for employee healthcare. Whereas, for the gig-workers there are benefits like no waiting period, pre-existing disease coverage and inclusion of comprehensive healthcare packages that include coverage for both preventive and curative treatments.
Personal accident: Gig workers move around a lot, from one task or job to another, putting them in the high-risk category for road accidents, physical injuries and disability. A personal accident insurance policy covers medical expenses in case of an accident as well as temporary or permanent disability. It also provides financial security to the family of the policyholder in the event of his or her death due to the accident.
Income protection: Since gig workers of the ‘quick’ commerce companies spend a lot of their time on the road to ensure prompt service delivery, they are prone to health issues. Income protection cover gives the policyholder a regular income in case he or she has a health issue or meets with an accident, and until such time he or she resumes work.
The retention rate in ‘quick’ commerce companies is declining as gig workers are switching jobs in a span of two to three months. One way to motivate them to stay on is to let them know that they are as important to the company as the full-time employees. ‘Quick’ commerce companies can do so by offering the gig workforce attractive employee benefits starting with adequate health insurance and show that they care.