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Pandemic lessons learnt, database on migrant labour may be ready by June

A comprehensive database for migrant and other unorganised sector workers is seen as necessary in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Written by Aanchal Magazine | New Delhi | Updated: December 10, 2020 3:54:54 pm
Pandemic lessons learnt, database on migrant labour may be ready by JuneThe abiding lesson of 2020 is that a nation will suffer if there is a decline in three measures — work, wealth and welfare. I wish to devote this year-end column to reflect on this lesson.

The Labour and Employment Ministry has sought help from other ministries to build a new database for migrant workers and others in the unorganised sector, which it hopes to operationalise by May-June next year.

The government will tap into existing databases of schemes such as Mahatma National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme and One Nation, One Ration Card, along with data from Employees’ State Insurance Corporation and Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation, to create a unique registration for migrant workers.

Since multiple databases will be used, a de-duplication exercise using Aadhaar data will be undertaken prior to registration for the new portal, which the National Informatics Centre (NIC) is developing.

Details of gig and platform workers and other unorganised sector workers will be separately added to this database.

“Sanction has been received for and we have held two-three meetings with NIC, which is developing the portal. Funds are now available for it. We are in the process of interactions with the concerned ministries,” Labour Secretary Apurva Chandra told The Indian Express.

Read | Over 1 crore migrant labourers returned to home states on foot during Mar-Jun: Govt

“First of all, we want to take the database of some ministries for seeding purposes. For example, NREGA, One Nation, One Ration. We would like to take those databases – and then there is the preparation of the software, and because it will involve taking databases, de-duplication with Aadhaar, de-duplication with ESIC, EPFO databases, and then allowing for registration, either on their own or through CSCs (common service centres),” Chandra said.

NIC has estimated an approximate timeline of six months to complete work on the portal, he added.

A comprehensive database for migrant and other unorganised sector workers is seen as necessary in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. The government had announced the creation of an online portal for migrant workers after largescale migration took place in the aftermath of the disease outbreak and lockdown.

The government estimates about 20-25 crore unorganised workers will be added on the portal over the next four or five years, Chandra said. “There are around 8-10 crore workers registered under NREGA. About 10-15 lakh would be gig and platform workers. One Nation, One Ration card is a big database, around 30-35 crore people under it. But many would be common between NREGA and One Nation, One Ration. So those would be duplications. Even gig and platform workers might have worked earlier in organised sectors with EPF contributions and so, there could be duplication. So, the de-duplication process will take some time,” he said.

The common Aadhaar-linked database will also be the first step towards initiating social security measures for unorganised sector workers under the Code on Social Security, 2020.

The Ministry of Labour and Employment had in November released draft Rules for the Code which provide for Aadhaar-based registration, including self-registration by unorganised workers, gig workers and platform workers on the portal of the central government. The Rules also provide for Aadhaar-based registration of building and other construction workers on the specified portal of the central government and the state government or the State Welfare Board.

The government has held discussions with the gig and platform companies to frame the modalities for the social security fund. The Labour Ministry is working towards linking the ESIC scheme as the first social security scheme for the gig and platform workers. “The scheme will largely provide the ESIC benefits to the gig workers. Currently, their employers are just providing accident insurance. So, this will be a comprehensive health insurance for them,” Chandra said.

Under the Social Security Code, a National Social Security Board is proposed, which will recommend the formulation of suitable schemes for different sections of unorganised workers, gig workers and platform workers to the central government. Aggregators employing gig workers will have to contribute 1-2 per cent of their annual turnover for social security, with the total contribution not exceeding 5 per cent of the amount payable by the aggregator to gig and platform workers.

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