At a time when the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the job landscape, gig employment is gaining ground and is offering huge potential for both blue-collar as well as white-collar workers, according to experts.
Gig workers are independent contractual workers who are into flexible agreements with companies or through platforms for on-demand work completion. In a gig economy, temporary, flexible jobs are preferred by companies rather than hiring full-time employees. Experts believe that gig economy provides a win-win situation for both parties and its reach is slowly expanding from less-skilled services to high-skilled jobs.
"Gig economy has been there for a long time. It''s being embraced like never before, that too in India, due to both economic conditions and COVID-19 situation," said Kaushik Banerjee, Vice President and Business Head of Teamlease.com and Freshersworld.com. According to TeamLease.com, a group company of TeamLease Services, the demand for gig workers is higher this year than last year.
"On Teamlease.com alone we have more than 11,871 job vacancies for gig profiles. In fact, there is a 2.5X jump in demand compared to last year," Banerjee said.
"Corporate workforce is making space to accommodate gig workers. We have already seen a good 12% rise from pre-COVID times," he added.
While delivery agents command the biggest slice of the pie, the other profiles which are in demand include warehouse helpers and assembly line operators. In white-collar gigs, designers, content writers and digital marketers are in demand as e-commerce sites require increased activity, Banerjee said.
"We have noticed that companies have now started shifting full-time entry-level roles to a gig model," GigIndia co-founder and CEO Sahil Sharma said, adding that after the lockdown, "we at GigIndia have uploaded around 3,500-plus job opportunities for giggers on our platform within six months".
There has been a 115% increase in work-from-home gigs during the lockdown and the percentage of women giggers grew from 12.07 per cent to 29.34 per cent within six months of the pre/post-lockdown period, Sharma said.
However, in the absence of a steady salary, paid sick leave and other benefits, the chances of financial insecurity are much higher.
"Gig, being a new form of workforce engagement, remains untested in Indian courts, and with the absence of specific legislations, gig workers cannot claim consequential benefits such as minimum wages, hours of work, overtime, leave, etc as compared to most traditional long-term employees," said Nishith Upadhyaya, Director - Advisory Services, SHRM (APAC & MENA).
"In our view, the government should aim to offer a reasonable amount of social security to gig workers as well as protection under employment laws while retaining the inherent flexible nature of the gig work arrangement," Upadhyaya further added.
According to Abhay Mathur, Senior Vice President, Finance, Urban Company, "a flexible workforce helps organisations manage costs well with the peaks and troughs of demand. It also enables rapid scale up when exponential growth happens and helps provide specialist skills for one time/occasional use."
For workers, the benefit is the flexibility to work when you want and on the jobs you want, across geographies (where possible), he added.