India’s New Budget Includes A Freelancer Minimum Wage
India’s new 2021 Union Budget will include protections for freelancers. Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman proposed multiple new measures during her speech on the Budget 2021 including a freelancer minimum wage. The goal of the whole budget is to prop up India’s economy and spur on recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Protecting freelancers and gig workers is especially prominent in India. As reported by The Indian Express, there are around 15 million freelancers and gig workers in India. They work in a variety of conditions and across multiple sectors, meaning until now their work has been hard to universally understand and protect.
Freelancer minimum wage and more: 5 key changes in the budget
The nation’s economic survey found that India is one of the largest markets in the world for gig workers and freelancers, driven in part by the meteoric rise of ecommerce due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
There are three five changes for gig workers in the country:
- Access to social security benefits.
- A federally mandated minimum wage.
- Additional protections for women.
- New support resources to help gig workers find jobs.
- Making it easier for businesses to hire freelancers.
Social security benefits
Like most countries, freelancers and gig workers in India did not have access to the country’s social security benefit scheme. In the new budget, that will no longer be the case. The budget proposes bringing gig workers into the social security fold, giving them access to benefits if they can’t find work.
Freelancer minimum wage
Sitharaman said in her proposal that the country would also institute a minimum wage. She did not specify how much it would be. However, it would protect freelancers and gig workers from either clients taking advantage of them or from unscrupulous gig platforms not providing adequate wages for work.
Protections for women
A key shift for women is explicitly allowing women to work in all categories and work night shifts, with adequate protection. Women’s rights is a fraught topic globally, but especially in India. The new rules would allow women more access to the labor market.
On top of supporting freelancers that can’t find work, the government wants to help everyone find paying gigs. The country proposed launching a new job marketplace for freelancers and gig workers to either find contract work or full-time employment.
Making it easier for businesses to hire gig workers
Sitharaman said “At the same time, compliance burden on employers will be reduced with single registration and licensing, and online returns,” according to TechCrunch.
The world is watching freelancers
Around the world, governments are looking to freelancers. Studies suggest freelancing is exploding in popularity and will become the dominant ‘job’ in the next few years. The challenge is that many labor codes aren’t made for freelancers. They expected everyone to either be an entrepreneur / employer or an employee.
As a result, a lot of changes are going on around the world. In Serbia, freelancers revolted against 80% tax rates. The Philippine government just passed a Freelancer Protection Act similar to the Indian Budget. In Greece, digital nomads and freelancers are being given a huge tax cut, to much skepticism. Croatia’s new digital nomad visa includes freelancers and doesn’t levy income taxes locally.