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11% Decline in Monthly Income of Food Delivery Agents in 3 Years

An NCAER report shows the real income of long-shift food delivery agents decreased from Rs 13,470 in 2019 to Rs 11,963 in 2022.
Demand to Ensure Gig Workers’ Safety Grows as 10-Minute Delivery Promise Faces Bumpy Road

Image Courtesy: TheLeaflet

A food delivery partner is more educated than most urban workers yet his/her average real monthly income declined between 2019 and 2022 as inflation and fuel prices increased.

According to a report titled ‘Socio-economic Impact Assessment of Food Delivery Platform Workers’ and released by the National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER), the real income of a food delivery agent working for 11 hours declined by 11.1% from Rs 13,470 in 2019 to Rs 11,963 in 2022 despite having a median education level of 10+2.

On the other hand, the real income of delivery agents working for five hours fell by 10.4% from Rs 7,999 to Rs 7,157 in the same period, Business Standard reported quoting the leading economic policy think tank’s report.

The NCAER assessed 924 food delivery platform workers from one company across 28 cities based on their current work status, tenures and engagement (long or short shifts or weekends). Around 70% of respondents were non-migrants working in their hometowns in tier-2 and -3 cities.

Though 65% of long-shift workers made more money or the same amount as in previous jobs, actual incomes declined over time due to rising inflation and fuel prices, The Hindu BusinessLine reported.

Platform workers reported that real incomes had gone down over time. That is primarily due to inflation. For long-shift workers, it has become harder to achieve targets (which translates into higher income) due to increased traffic and rising competition,” the report states.

The real income of all workers has gone down as the ability to meet monthly expenditure out of monthly incomes of long-shift workers has also gone down.”

Besides, the working hours of long-shift employees (11-hour shifts) increased by 19% to 10.9 hours compared to 9.3 hours in their previous jobs, according to the report, which uncovered facets of employment generation for young workers below 35.

NCAER professor Bornali Bhandari said, “Though the earnings are not very high from the platform work and in some cases, people do suffer losses due to rise in costs. Yet the food platform [work], owing to its flexible, independent nature, does provide an income to vulnerable people and often acts as a measure of last resort.”

Food delivery platforms have become a tool for social protection and employment with nine per cent of workers joining the sector due to unemployment during the period.

The report emphasised the enhancement of social security support for gig workers, especially in view of the hybrid nature of their employment. It advocated the formal recognition of the skills acquired by workers in the gig economy through partnerships with the National Skills Development Corporation, which would significantly enhance the employability and career progression prospects of platform workers, the report stated.

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