COVID-19 Charter Of Recommendations on Gig Work

Posted by Aayush Rathi and Ambika Tandon at Apr 30, 2020 04:10 AM |
Tandem Research and the Centre for Internet and Society organised a webinar on 9 April 2020, with unions representing gig workers and researchers studying labour rights and gig work, to uncover the experiences of gig workers during the lockdown. Based on the discussion, the participants of the webinar have drafted a set of recommendations for government agencies and platform companies to safeguard workers’ well being. Here are excerpts from this charter of recommendation shared with multiple central and state government agencies and platforms companies.


Summary of discussions from the COVID-19 and Gig Economy webinar, authored by Zothan Mawii, Tandem Research


  1. Aayush Rathi, Ambika Tandon and Tasneem Mewa, The Centre for Internet and Society, India
  2. Aditi Surie, Indian Institute for Human Settlements
  3. Anita Gurumurthy and Nandini Chami, IT for Change
  4. Astha Kapoor, Aapti Institute
  5. Dharmendra Vaishnav, Indian Delivery Lions (IDL)
  6. Janaki Srinivasan, International Institute of Information Technology, Bangalore
  7. Kaveri Medappa, University of Sussex
  8. Pradyumna Taduri, Fairwork Foundation
  9. Rakhi Sehgal, Gurgaon Shramik Kendra
  10. Sangeet Jain, Researcher
  11. Shaik Salauddin, Indian Federation of App-based Transport Workers (IFAT)
  12. Shohini Sengupta, Assistant Professor of Research, Jindal School of Banking and Finance
  13. Simiran Lalvani, Independent researcher
  14. Tanveer Pasha, Ola, Taxi 4 Sure and Uber Drivers and Owners’ Association (OTU)
  15. P. Vignesh Ilavarasan, Researcher and professor, IIT Delhi
  16. Vinay Sarathy, United Food Delivery Partners’ Union (UFDPU)
  17. Vinay K. Sreenivasa, Advocate, Alternative Law Forum
  18. Zothan Mawii, Iona Eckstein and Urvashi Aneja, Tandem Research


The nationwide lockdown in response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on ‘gig workers’ working for on-demand service platforms such as those providing ride-hailing, home-based work and food delivery services and also e-commerce companies. Those driving for on-demand transportation companies have lost their source of livelihood as services remain suspended.

Workers for on-demand delivery and home-based services, on the other hand, have been deemed “essential” and continue to work although demand has fallen drastically. Earnings for delivery workers have fallen to as low as INR 100-300 per day for a whole day’s work. Workers face a high risk of contracting COVID-19 due to their exposure to multiple customers. Apprehensions are rising after a delivery worker for Zomato tested positive for COVID-19 in New Delhi. Demand has fallen further but delivery workers must continue to put themselves and their families’ health and safety at risk with limited or no provisions for personal protective equipment or other safety measures offered by companies.

The relief works announced by the central and state governments do not specifically provide for ‘gig workers’. At the same time, the measures announced by on-demand service companies are inadequate, ambiguous and inconsistent. The eligibility, manner and quantum of relief and the process of availing relief is unclear to workers.

We urge you to bolster the socio-economic and healthcare protections for ‘gig workers’ in India in light of the outbreak of COVID-19. Any efforts aimed at directing relief to ‘gig workers’ will have to be combined, involving the central and state governments and on-demand service companies.

We suggest that the measures adopted incorporate the recommendations outlined below. The recommendations have been drafted after discussion between civil society actors including labour unions from delivery and transportation sectors, researchers, and activists. A summary of the discussions leading to this charter of recommendations can be found here.

Charter of Recommendation on Gig Work






Aayush Rathi and Ambika Tandon