Legal Framework for Sexual Harassment in the Gig Economy


The introduction of the gig economy has brought a revolution in the nature of work. People can now work in an environment offering flexible working hours and autonomy to work globally. The gig economy has been of advantage to people but still lacks at various key steps for development. It faces numerous legal challenges including the pervasive issue of sexual harassment.

This paper highlights the criticality of the issue and provides with an examination of the existing legal framework for coping with sexual harassment in the context of the gig economy. It analyses the relevant statutes, case laws, and regulatory mechanisms adopted by the platforms. This paper presents the challenges faced by the gig workers. Additionally, it discusses the measures taken by platforms to enhance the protection of gig workers. It provides the recommendations that can be inculcated in bringing reforms that offer insight to policymakers and stakeholders to foster a safer and more equitable environment.

Keywords: The gig economy, gig workers, sexual harassment, platform workers, Non-platform workers.

Literature review

An article, ‘COVID-19 and Gig workers: need to democratise economy’ by Bhaskar Pant and Geetima Das Krishna, talks about the effect of COVID-19 on the status of the Gig economy in India. According to them, the Code of Social Security 2020 has welcomed the gig economy more openly in India. The article begins with the introduction of the gig economy and the inclusion of workers in the gig economy. Pant and Krishna highlighted the reason for workers changing from traditional work to the gig economy. They have touched on the issue of bringing new policies and regulations for strengthening workers’ status and given recommendations for the betterment of the gig economy.

In the policy brief by NITI Aayog titled, ‘India’s booming gig and platform economy’, the report begins with an explanation of the gig economy with the data and changing trends. The other part deals with the recommendation for stakeholders covering the various sectors of the gig economy and the last part of the report highlights the futuristic goal of the platform economy in India.

A Research paper ‘Cross country study on gig economy’ by wage indicator highlights the background of the gig economy with its advantages and disadvantages around the world. This paper mainly highlights the study of the gig economy in various countries like the Netherlands, India, Spain, and Argentina and also provides a comparative study of the labour laws in the mentioned countries. This paper also highlights the results of surveys conducted in these countries. That highlights the benefits and drawbacks of the existing laws in those countries. This paper also gives recommendations for the improvement of the gig economy in India.

In an Editorial in the Economic Times, Umang Mathur highlights the increasing trend of the Gig economy in India but also mentions the change in the trend in the gig economy in India from other countries. He says that the nature of the gig economy in India would be different from the other countries. He highlights COVID as the main reason for the increasing number of contractual workers in India. Mathur also brings up the challenges while applying for gig work and mentions the technological gap as the main reason for the challenges. 

Most of the literature available on the gig economy mostly discusses its advantages and challenges but remains silent on the critical aspect of sexual harassment faced by the gig workers. If certain literature pieces have attempted to address the issue, they have addressed the same from the lens of a female-gendered struggle. This paper is an attempt to assess the issue of sexual harassment in the gig economy expansively from a gender-less lens and tries to bring recommendations for the same.

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Author: Anjali Verma