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Inflation | National database of workers in informal sector in the works

Inflation | National database of workers in informal sector in the works

NEW DELHI: The government is set to do a count of rickshaw pullers, street-side vendors and hawkers, and other unorganised workforce, in its first effort to create a national database of an estimated 450 million informal sector workers and provide them universal social security coverage.

As part of this survey, informal sector workers would be asked about their occupation, monthly incomes and days of employment, and their profiles would be seeded with Aadhaar to deliver the benefits.

Nearly 90% of the country’s workforce is in the informal sector with no minimum wages or any kind of social security. The survey is expected to yield crucial employment data on the informal sector, filling a vital gap in India’s statistics.

The National Statistical Commission will be roped in to compile data on the size, distribution and economic contribution of these unorganised workers to the national output.

The exercise will start soon and take at least a year to complete. It is expected to help create a base for the government to identify genuine beneficiaries to be targeted when it moves towards universal social security.

A senior government official told ET that one of the top priorities of the labour ministry, after the codification of labour laws, would be to create a database of unorganised workers using the Aadhaar number.

“This would help to directly transfer benefits for this class of workers as and when we come up with any scheme for them,” the official added.

Under the Code on Social Security, 2019, the labour ministry has proposed constituting a social security fund or funds for the provision of social security to unorganised workers, platform workers or gig workers, or any other class.

The Bill, introduced in the Lok Sabha in the last winter session of Parliament, has been sent to the standing committee on labour for vetting.

The Bill seeks to empower the central government to formulate and notify, from time to time, suitable welfare schemes for unorganised workers on matters related to life and disability cover; health and maternity benefits; old-age protection; education; housing or any other benefit.

The labour ministry had earlier conceptualised and test-piloted the Unorganised Worker Index Number Card for unorganised workers. However, it now feels that issuing a unique number would only add to the confusions and will instead use Aadhaar.

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