With the enactment of the Unorganized Workers’ Social Security Act, 2008, Government of India has created a rights-based legal framework for providing social security benefits to the workers in the unorganized sector that comprise of more than 40 crore individuals and constitutes more than 90% of the total workforce of the country. Under this Act, there is a provision to issue a unique national Unorganized Worker Identification Number making use of the State Administration, in order to improve access to all social security schemes. Ministry of Labour & Employment (MoLE) being the administrative Ministry is mandated to provide technical support and guidelines for the conduct of registration of unorganized workers.
The term ‘unorganized worker’ has been defined under the Unorganized Workers Social Security Act (UWSSA), 2008 as a home-based worker, 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 mentioned in Schedule-II of the Act.
Thus, the unorganized workers are not limited to those who are working in the unorganized sector but also include workers in the formal sector without any social security cover under the Acts mentioned in Schedule II of the Act, namely:
Here the ‘unorganized sector’ includes an enterprise engaged in production and sale of good or providing services where less than 10 workers are employed, irrespective of whether or not employer provides equipment, material or other inputs.
‘Home-based workers’ include persons engaged in production of goods or providing services outside the premises of employers, for remuneration.
‘Self-employed workers’ includes persons not employed by an employer but engages in occupations in unorganized sector subjects (with monthly earning less than that notified by Central or State Government) or holds cultivable land (ceiling notified by State Government).
‘Wage worker’ includes persons employed by employers as a home-based worker, temporary or casual worker, migrant worker, workers employed in households including domestic worker, with a monthly wage of amount as may be notified by Central and State Government.