5 lakh food delivery persons must get legal status, benefits of industrial workers

By Venkatachari Jagannathan Chennai, March 19 : Call them partners or self-employed or entrepreneurs but in a real sense, the food delivery people are workers and have to be brought under the organised network, say experts. They also said the aggregator companies should soon desist from finding legal loopholes and bring the delivery persons under the organised network. "There are about five lakh food delivery persons in India. For every two persons on the road, there are an equal number of persons at the backend. While the backend staff is supplied by the staffing companies, the delivery persons are considered as 'partners' by the food delivery companies," a top official of a human resource (HR) company told IANS preferring anonymity. According to him, the companies form a company for about every 20 food delivery persons and payments are made to those companies. The food delivery persons get their payments from those "special purpose vehicles/SPV" as per the deliveries made. "There are also other conditions that the food delivery persons have to comply with - like wearing the company provided T-Shirts while on the job, delivering within a stipulated time, face the risk of being taken off the network for any failures, getting paid by the company and others," V.Prakash, Senior Advocate, specialising in labour matters. "If SPVs are formed by the companies then the corporate veil has to be lifted to see the real face behind it," he added. Though said to be independent contractors, entrepreneurs, if a food delivery person, switches off his phone for a day, he runs the risk of being suspended. "The food delivery persons or entrepreneurs-workers have to be brought under some law so that their interests are protected and social security net is provided," said the HR company official. According to him, many of the delivery persons get burnt soon working for 12 hours a day. There are people who have come to his company seeking a different job, even at a lower pay. Many food delivery persons were not willing to spend even five minutes with IANS talking about their work as they have to complete a series of food deliveries. The two experts said in the US, the food delivery persons are considered as workers and the same situation should be here as well. They also agreed that the number of delivery persons is a factor in valuing a food delivery company but the similar valuation is not given to the SPVs or to the delivery persons. While the delivery persons are paid based on the distance and ratings, experts said in the long run, there should be a mix of fixed and variable structure. "If the food app companies take people from the staffing companies, then the minimum wages and social security measures will kick in and hence the companies are not opting that route," the HR official said. /IANS


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