Karnataka government rolls out insurance scheme for gig workers, newspaper delivery persons

In the recently-held 10-day winter session in Belagavi, several elected members expressed concerns over the safety of the gig workers.

ByMahesh M Goudar

Published Dec 21, 2023 | 9:16 AMUpdatedDec 21, 2023 | 10:33 AM

Congress MP Rahul Gandhi during his interaction with gig workers in Bengaluru before Karnataka polls. (Twitter: INCIndia)

The Siddaramaiah-led Congress government in Karnataka has taken a significant stride towards fulfilling its pre-poll promise of a safety net for gig workers.

The Karnataka government, on Wednesday, 20 December, issued an order copy introducing a comprehensive insurance scheme for gig workers and persons engaged in the delivery of newspapers.

With an emphasis on social security, the state unveiled the Karnataka State Gig Workers Insurance Scheme and the Karnataka State Newspaper Distribution Workers’ Accident Relief and Medical Facility Scheme. It may be noted that the Karnataka government conferred this year’s prestigious Rajyotsava Award to Javarappa, a newspaper distributor from Mysuru along with other achievers from various fields.

These initiatives — offering substantial convenience, life insurance, accident insurance, and medical facilities — are said to underscore the government’s commitment to safeguarding the well-being of over 2.3 lakh contributors to the workforce.

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The insurance schemes

In the recent 10-day winter session in Belagavi, several elected members expressed concerns over the safety of the gig workers.

In response, Karnataka’s Labour Minister Santosh Lad stated that the state government was working towards rolling out insurance schemes — including safety measures — exclusively for gig workers.

The government also issued a directive to register workers through the Seva Sindhu and e-Shram portals for the schemes.

The Karnataka State Gig Workers Insurance Scheme provides a cover of ₹4 lakh. It includes a life insurance facility of ₹2 lakh and an accident insurance facility of ₹2 lakh.

The insurance scheme for newspaper distributors provides an accident compensation facility of ₹2 lakh and a medical insurance facility of up to ₹1 lakh.

To facilitate the registration of gig workers under the scheme, senior labour department inspectors have been appointed as registrars.

Additionally, labour officers would serve as member secretaries for the approval committee that would be responsible for providing facilities under the scheme.

Furthermore, the government was expecting the Seva Sindhu portal to help register a higher number of workers under the scheme. In tandem, efforts were underway to register daily newspaper workers on the e-Shram portal.

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The origins

The roots of at least the gig-workers’ insurance schemes appeared to lie in Congress’ pre-poll promise when its senior leader Rahul Gandhi met with gig workers as part of the party’s election campaign in Bengaluru. The pre-poll promise also found its way to Chief Minister Siddaramaiah’s Budget speech on 7 July, when he declared a significant initiative for the welfare of gig workers.

In the speech, he emphasised the provision of social security for gig workers in the unorganised sector — specifically those employed as full-time or part-time delivery personnel in ecommerce giants like Swiggy, Zomato, and Amazon.

The announcement detailed an insurance package totalling ₹4 lakh, covering ₹2 lakh for life insurance and ₹2 lakh for accidental insurance.

Importantly, Siddaramaiah highlighted that the government would bear the entire insurance premium.