In what would be some much-needed news for gig economy workers, the government is planning to provide subsidised health care facilities to such employees. Moreover, gig economy companies might not be pushed to contribute towards social security cover for its employees. The government is seeking to provide medical treatment at subsidised rates from the Employees’ State Insurance Corporation (ESIC) hospitals and dispensaries from across the country.
This move may come as a huge relief to the companies as they would not need to bear the social security costs of the workers.
“The medical treatment through ESIC to gig workers is planned to be based on minimum user charge rather than on a contribution basis from employers,” stated a labour and employment ministry official to Business Standard.
Workers would be able to go to ESIC hospitals and dispensaries for treatment where they will be billed discounted rates under the Central Government Health Scheme (CGHS), the official explained to the daily. The rules to cover gig workers through ESIC are yet to be formed.
The present ESIC law that provides for medical benefits as well as maternity, disability and dependent benefits to employees drawing salaries of up to Rs 21,000 per month currently applies to factories, shops, hotels, restaurants, cinemas and road transport with 10 workers or more.
Both workers and employees contribute 4 per cent each towards ESIC that has around 160 hospitals and 1,500 dispensaries under the scheme.
The government proposed the scheme in the Social Security Code Bill 2019 in the Lok Sabha last month. The bill had mentioned that the government would launch a scheme to cover gig workers under ESIC.