The term ‘unorganized worker’ is defined in India under Section 2(m) of the Unorganized Workers Social Security Act, 2008.
An unorganised worker is a home-based worker or a self-employed worker or a wage worker in the unorganized sector and includes a worker in the organized sector who is not covered by any of the Acts pertaining to welfare Schemes as mentioned in Schedule-II of Unorganized Workers Social Security Act, 2008.
- home based worker refers to one who engages in production at his own home or at premises of his choice but not at the employer’s work place, even if the employer might have provided him materials or equipments for his work.
- Self-employed worker refers to one who is not working for an employer and is engaged in an unorgnised sector job earning an income below a threshold or owning land below a notified limit.
- A wage worker is a person employed for a remuneration (in cash or kind) in the unorganised sector, by an employer or contractor for one or more employers, as a casual worker, or temporary worker, or migrant worker, or as domestic workers but on wage below a notified limit.
- unorganised sector refers to a production or service oriented enterprise owned by individuals or self employed workers and if workers are employed, then the total number of workers cannot exceed 10. More details may be seen here.
- The Acts mentioned in Schedule II of the Act are
- The Workmen’s Compensation Act, 1923 (8 of 1923),
- The Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 (14 of 1947),
- The Employees’ State Insurance Act, 1948 (34 of 1948),
- The Employees’ Provident Funds and Miscellaneous Provision Act, 1952 (19 of 1952),
- The Maternity Benefit Act, 1961 (53 of 1961) and
- The Payment of Gratuity Act, 1972 (39 of 1972).
Thus, unorganised workers are essentially those who do not have the benefit of pension, provident fund, gratuity, maternity leave etc. and work mostly on daily / hourly wages. They are not represented by active trade unions.
Ministry of Labour has categorized the unorganized labour force under four groups in terms of
- Occupation – In terms of occupation, it included small and marginal farmers, landless agricultural labourers, share croppers, fishermen and those engaged in animal husbandry, beedi (local cigarette) rolling, labelling and packing, building and construction workers, leather workers, weavers, artisans, salt workers, workers in brick kilns and stone quarries, workers in saw mills, oil mills etc.
- Nature of employment – a In terms of nature of employment, they are attached agricultural labourers, bonded labourers, migrant workers, contract and casual labourers
- Specially distressed categories – Toddy tappers, scavengers, carriers of head loads, drivers of animal driven vehicles and loaders and unloaders, belong to the specially distressed category
- Service categories – Midwives, domestic workers, fishermen and women, barbers, vegetable and fruit vendors, newspaper vendors etc. come under the service category.
In addition to the above categories, there exists a large section of unorganised labour force such as cobblers, hamals, handicraft artisans, handloom weavers, lady tailors, physically handicapped self-employed persons, rickshaw pullers/ auto drivers, sericulture workers, carpenters, leather and tannery workers, powerloom workers and urban poor.
Government enacted the “Unorganised Workers’ Social Security Act, 2008 ” with a view to provide social security to unorganized workers like those in hotels, private security etc. The Act provides for constitution of National / State Social Security Board at the central /State level to recommend social security schemes like life and disability cover, health and maternity benefits, old age protection and any other benefit as may be determined by the Government for unorganized workers. Act also provides for registration of unorganised workers.
As such, all unorganised workers including those in hotel, private security and others covered as per the provisions of the Act are eligible to take benefits under the social security schemes/welfare schemes framed under the Act. The ‘’Unorganized workers social Security Act, 2008” came into operation w.e.f 31 December 2008 and it encompasses ten social security schemes benefitting the unorganized workers. Details Beneficiaries of Social Security Schemes Listed Under Schedule-I of the Unorganised Workers Social Security Act, 2008 are given below:
|Sl. No.||Name of the Scheme||Number of Beneficiaries (as on 31.03.2014)|
|1||Indira Gandhi National Old Age Pension Scheme (IGNOAPS)||2,22,02,018|
|2||National Family Benefit Scheme||2,77,363|
|3||Janani Suraksha Yojana||45,39,000|
|4||Handloom Weavers’ Comprehensive Welfare Scheme||23,48,688|
|5||Handicraft Artisans’ Comprehensive Welfare Scheme||9,66,280|
|6||Pension to Master Craft Person||----|
|7||National Scheme for welfare of Fishermen and Training and Extension||48,81,355|
|8 &9||Jan Shree Bima Yojana and Aam Aadmi Bima Yojana (AABY)*||4,54,15,082|
|10||Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana (RSBY)||3,85,00,000|
|Source: Press release of Ministry of Labour and Employment dated 22 December 2014.|
- Janashree Bima Yojana (JBY) was merged into Aam Admi Bima Yojana (AABY) w.e.f. 01.01.2013 and the revised AABY scheme is being implemented through Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC)
It is estimated that the unorganised sector workers, constitute 88% of the total labour force of 47.29 crore, as per the 66th Round of NSSO Survey of 2011-12.