Worker Wellbeing on Digital Work Platforms in India: A Study of OlaCabs and UrbanClap in New Delhi
How are digital work platforms shaping worker wellbeing? How should we think about the responsiblitities of platforms towards workers?
Digital platforms linking labor demand and supply can bring new market efficiencies and create opportunities for micro- entrepreneurship. Yet, they can also pose significant risks for labour, driving down wages, creating precarious conditions of work, and increasing worker alienation.
This study looks at labor wellbeing in India’s platform economy. In a number of industrialised economies, the platform economy is disrupting existing structures of formal work, contributing to the creation of new forms of non-standard, gig-based work. In contrast, in India, informality has been a persistent feature of the economy, with most workers working in low-wage work, for multiple employers, and without access to any formal social insurance or protection.
Drawing on in-depth interviews with workers on two platforms,
Ola Cabs (ride-hailing) and UrbanClap (home-services) in New
Delhi, this paper draws attention to the motivations, experiences
and expectations of platform workers.
What impact are digital work platforms having on worker wellbeing in India and their perceptions thereof? In what ways is the platform economy recasting existing structures and practices of informality? What kinds of policies are needed to ensure labor wellbeing and protection?
This project was supported by the Emerging Markets Sustainability
Dialogues (EMSD) Program of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für
Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH on behalf of
the German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).
It is part of a broader research project looking at labor wellbeing in the platform economy in India, Argentina (CIPPEC), and South Africa (HSRC). Our partners in South Africa (HSRC) and Argentina ( CIPPEC) undertook similar studies, documenting the experiences and priorities of workers. Combined insights were presented to the T20 in the form of a policy brief.