Government’s own ‘gig workers’

Contact Counsellor

Government’s own ‘gig workers’

  • While the Agnipath scheme has ignited a debate on the nature of jobs in the government, ‘temporary’ jobs have comprised the vast majority of available government employment for quite some time.

Temporary jobs in public sector:

  • They may be classified into three categories; permanent, contractual and daily wagers.
  • Outsourcing and Fixed Term Employment (FTE) have become the dominant mode of working in the government, from highly specialised tasks to the most routine ones.
  • There are two main methods to induct an ‘employee’ on contract in a government entity;
  • Directly on the payroll of the entity
  • A labour contractor or as part of any other contract entered into, through a tender process.
  • In both cases, the costs and liabilities of the government entity are significantly reduced compared to a “permanent” position.

Impact of temporary jobs in public services:

  • Non Payment of salaries for extended periods, fudging of statutory deductions for the worker’s welfare such as provident fund (PF), employees’ state insurance (ESI), etc. by the labour contractor, and uneven distribution of work vis-à-vis “permanent” employees, are all common features of such contracts.
  • This has serious repercussions for the quality of public service that is sought to be provided including sanitation, public transport, health, etc.

Gig Economy:

  • Economy based on flexible, short-term, or freelance work. Workers of the gig economy are called gig workers, who are frequently employed by businesses on a contractual basis but are not regarded as employees.
  • Gig workers can be divided into platform and non-platform workers. Platform workers are those whose jobs rely on digital platforms or online software apps like Ola, Uber, Swiggy etc. Non-platform gig workers are full-time or part-time casual wage earners.

Indian Gig Economy: Current status and potential:

  • According to a report by Boston Consulting Group, India’s gig workforce comprises 15 million workers employed across industries such as software, shared services and professional services.
  • India is the fifth largest Economy in flexi-staffing globally, after the US, China, Brazil and Japan.
  • An estimated 56% of new employment in India is being generated by the gig economy companies across both the blue-collar and white-collar workforce.
  • The gig economy can serve up to 90 million jobs in the non-farm sectors in India with a potential to add 1.25% to the GDP over the long term.
  • As India moves towards its stated goal of becoming a USD 5 trillion economy by 2025, the gig economy will help in bridging the income and unemployment gap, and prevent jobless growth.


  • As we seek to regulate the “gig economy”, it may be time for the government to take some concrete measures for its own “gig workers”.