Survey flags need for incentivising women to join work force, lack of data on migrant workers
The Economic Survey 2020-2021, which was tabled in Parliament by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Friday, said the COVID-19 lockdown gave a boost to the gig economy, while it had an “inevitable impact on the vulnerable and informal sector, the education system, and on the economy as a whole”.
The Survey flagged the lack of data on migrant workers, stating that it was difficult to tell how many inter-State migrants had lost their jobs and accommodation during the pandemic. The survey highlighted need for investment in childcare facilities and non-discriminatory practices at workplaces to incentivise women to join the workforce.
“During the period of COVID-19 induced lockdown, the increasing role of the gig economy was evident with significant growth of online retail business. The lockdown period also saw employers preferring ‘Work from home’ of their employees, cutting down on staff strength and engaging freelancers or outsourcing tasks to reduce overhead costs as well as to hire skilled services,” it stated.
Gig or platform workers had lacked basic rights and social security till the recent Code on Social Security, 2020 was introduced. “COVID-19 has exposed the vulnerability of urban casual workers, who account for 11.2 per cent of urban workforce (All-India) as per PLFS [Periodic Labour Force Survey], January-March, 2020, a significant proportion of them are supposed to be migrants who were impacted by the lockdown. About 63.19 lakh migrant workers travelled through Shramik Special trains from May-August 2020. With limited data available on inter-state migration and employment in informal sectors, it is difficult to figure the numbers of migrants who lost jobs and accommodation during the pandemic and returned home,” the Survey noted.
Female participation in workforce
The survey noted that women spent more time on unpaid domestic work (7.5 hours) and care-giving activities compared to employment related work (5.7 hours) a day, citing the Time Use Survey, 2019. This, it said, was one of the main reasons for low female participation in the workforce.
“In order to incentivise more women to join into the labour force, investment in institutional support to affordable and quality child care facilities, paid paternal leave, family-friendly work environment, and support for elderly care needs to be made. There is also a need to promote non-discriminatory practices at the workplace like pay and career progression, improve work incentives, including other medical and social security benefits for female workers,” the Survey report said.
In 2018-2019, the labour force was estimated to be about 51.8 crore, of which 48.8 crore were employed and 3 crore unemployed.