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Saturday, January 29, 2022

Delhi: Death of Zomato delivery executive puts focus on safety net for gig workers

Shortly after the pandemic hit, and as gig workers continued to deliver essential goods, companies in this space bought fresh policy covers for their contractual workers.

Written by Pranav Mukul | New Delhi |
Updated: January 12, 2022 7:15:08 am
Tripathi, according to a Zomato executive, was provided with an accidental death cover of Rs 10 lakh, as are all of Zomato’s over 3 lakh delivery executives across the country.

The case of Zomato delivery executive Salil Tripathi, who died after being knocked down by an SUV on Saturday, brings into focus the insurance policies offered by online platforms to their delivery partners. While companies say they have been providing an insurance net to their active delivery partners, most of whom are contractual gig workers and spend a major portion of their working hours on the road typically driving two-wheelers, the safety net has become more inclusive and widespread with the onset of Covid-19 nearly two years ago.

Tripathi, according to a Zomato executive, was provided with an accidental death cover of Rs 10 lakh, as are all of Zomato’s over 3 lakh delivery executives across the country. Zomato has extended this cover to its delivery partners through several insurance companies. In addition to the life cover, a Zomato official said Tripathi’s family was also eligible for funeral expenses, which have already been disbursed.

“We have already initiated the claims process through our insurance partner,” the executive said.

On its part, Zomato covers all of its active delivery partners through these insurance policies. On who is considered an active partner, the executive explained that any delivery executive who has completed at least one order in the preceding 14 days is deemed to be active and is provided with the benefits.

An official email query sent to Zomato did not elicit a response.

Zomato’s rival Swiggy provides a Rs 6 lakh insurance cover. As per information from its website: “…all PDPs (pickup and delivery partners) and their families are covered under both medical insurance and accident Insurance. The sum total of the insured amounts is Rs 6,00,000.”

Shortly after the pandemic hit, and as gig workers continued to deliver essential goods, companies in this space bought fresh policy covers for their contractual workers. Flipkart, for example, had in 2020 offered a term-life cover of Rs 3 lakh to its contract employees.

According to insurance industry professionals, following the pandemic, these platform companies had bought medical and life insurance covers starting from Rs 50,000 per contract employee.

“The social protection that includes cover for life will have to be made mandatory under the social security code. This incident underscores the need for the government to look at not only life cover but also broader social protection. It’s not only the accident cover that is needed but also income security. These incidents are cruel reminders to the lawmakers to amend the social security code to extend all forms of social protection beyond the conventional sectors to all kind of workers, including gig workers,” labour economist and professor at XLRI, Xavier School of Management Jamshedpur, K R Shyam Sundar, told The Indian Express.

The Code on Wages, 2019, provides for universal minimum wage and floor wage across organised and unorganised sectors, including gig workers.

The Code on Social Security, 2020, recognises gig workers as a new occupational category. It defines them as a person who performs work or participates in work arrangement and earns from such activities, outside of the traditional employer-employee relationship, including insurance and benefits. However, these rules are yet to be enacted by the Centre.

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