Bengaluru: Flipkart treats gig workers the best among 11 of the largest platform-based companies in India, according to a study.
Most companies fare quite poorly in the study, which was conducted by Fairwork India, part of a global organisation that highlights the best and worst practices in the platform economy. Even Flipkart’s score (of 7 out of 10) has not improved over 2020. But it has risen to the top, from its No. 2 position in last year’s study. That’s because last year’s topper, Urban Company, lost three points and was down to No. 2 this year.
Swiggy, Zomato and BigBasket improved their points and rankings. Dunzo lost three points from last year, Amazon lost a point and this year has only 1 of 10. Uber and Ola had fared poorly last year — this year they are worse, with zero points each, and are at the bottom of the list. Gig workers are those who work on-demand, mostly through the apps of the platform companies. In Uber and Ola’s case, these are mostly drivers. In the case of many others, it is delivery personnel, and in the case of firms like Urban Company, it is those who provide domestic and personal care.
This is the third year that Fairwork India has done this exercise. The Fairwork India team includes the Centre for IT and Public Policy (CITAPP), and IIIT Bangalore, and the study is done in partnership with the global Fairwork network and Oxford University. The evaluation relies on five Fairwork principles — fair pay, fair conditions, fair contracts, fair management, and fair representation. Scores are awarded out of 10, based on whether a platform meets the basic standard (one point) and a higher standard (an additional point) for each of these five principles. The report said that the take-home earnings of gig workers declined this year, and part of it is due to lower demand for some services, increase in fuel expenses and platform commissions due to the pandemic.
The report said BigBasket, Flipkart and Urban Company were the only ones that in 2021 committed to ensuring that all gig workers on their platforms would earn at least the hourly local minimum wage, after factoring in their work-related costs.
The report said that while several platforms introduced Covid-19 safety measures, along with improvements to their insurance policies for their platform workers, only Flipkart and Urban Company were awarded the basic and advanced points under the ‘fair conditions’ principle. These two platforms, besides offering Covid-specific income protection this year, have also committed to compensating loss of income that would extend to situations beyond the pandemic.
Flipkart, Swiggy, and Zomato received both the basic and advanced points for ‘fair contract’ because they modified their contracts for gig workers to reduce the asymmetry in liabilities between gig workers and platforms. Often, platforms tend to unreasonably exclude liability on the part of the platform, and put the onus on gig workers.
BigBasket, Flipkart, Swiggy, and Urban Company scored both the basic and advanced points in ‘fair management’ as they adopted policies against the discrimination of their gig workers, and have committed to regular, independent audits to ensure there are no biases in their work allocation systems.
No platform earned either the basic or the advanced point on the fair representation principle, which refers to worker representation through a collective body or trade union. “It is disconcerting to note that despite the rise in gig worker collectivisation in the country, none of the platforms studied expressed a willingness to recognise a collective body of workers,” the report said.


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