The report said that there are around 2.5 million Anganwadi workers and helpers and 900,000 Accredited Social Health Activists who have been termed as “honorary” workers and in most cases they don’t even get the minimum wage prescribed by individual states. Photo: Hindustan Times
The report said that there are around 2.5 million Anganwadi workers and helpers and 900,000 Accredited Social Health Activists who have been termed as “honorary” workers and in most cases they don’t even get the minimum wage prescribed by individual states. Photo: Hindustan Times

Number of temporary workers in government jobs seen rising

A report finds that 44% of govt employees are temporary, and share of permanent workers is declining

New Delhi: At least 44% of government employees are temporary and the number of such workers is rising, leaving them without access to social security benefits and in some cases depriving them of minimum wages.

The size of the government workforce is on the decline and so is the share of permanent workers, said the report prepared by a federation of 40 staffing agencies.

As many as 27.8 million of the estimated 49.7 million formal sector workforce were dependent on the government for livelihood at the end of 2013 and about 12.3 million, or 44%, of them were in temporary jobs, said the report by the Indian Staffing Federation, members of which include TeamLease Services Pvt. Ltd, Randstad India Ltd, Kelly Services India Pvt. Ltd and ManpowerGroup Services India Pvt. Ltd.

“The casual workers hardly have any job or income security. Even the short-term contract holders primarily receive a consolidated wage with no additional contribution towards employees’ provident fund (EPF), Employees’ State Insurance (ESI), gratuity, new pension scheme (NPS), etc," said the report.

Between 1995 to 2011, the overall employment by the government in the formal sector declined by approximately 10% to 17.55 million from 19.47 million, the report said. At the central government level, the average decrease was the highest—an average annual drop of 1.99% as against the average decline of 0.65% in the overall government sector, including states and local bodies, according to the report.

Though the general perception is that most of the temporary or irregular jobs are created in the private sector, the real situation is quite different, the report said. The government accounts for nearly 58% of the formal sector employment, and as a result, the absolute size of temporary employment in government sector is also large, though the share of temporary workforce in the government sector is lower than in private sector. The private sector has over 15 million temporary workers in the formal sector.

“The issue is government is hiring temporary workers through bi-party agreements instead of tripartite agreements where the hiring agency offers social security benefits," said Rituparna Chakraborty, senior vice-president of TeamLease Services.

The report said that among government workers, Group C and Group D (lower level) employees were the worst affected. Employment in these two cadres declined by 8.4%, in sharp contrast to a consistent expansion in employment in the Group A and Group B positions. Between 2001-02 and 2011-12, Group B employees grew by 27%, followed by Group A (24.1%), the lower cadre employees number fell by 8.4%. Chakraborty said that outsourcing happened in a bigger way in this segment over the past decade. She said a sizable number of workers helping the government in its flagship social sector schemes are not getting enough wage or social security benefits like PF and ESI facility. The report said that there are around 2.5 million Anganwadi workers and helpers and 900,000 Accredited Social Health Activists who have been termed as “honorary" workers and in most cases they don’t even get the minimum wage prescribed by individual states. These workers get a monthly salary between 1,500 and 4,400, according to government data.

A labour ministry official said that they are aware of the issue and the topic was “touched upon" in a recent meeting with state labour departments. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that honorary workers have been demanding at least minimum wage and the government was consulting different departments on the feasibility and its financial impact.

Raja Sekher Reddy, director of staffing company InnovSource Solutions Pvt. Ltd, said that they would like to work more with the central and state governments to bring more people to the formal sector and give better benefits to temporary workers.

Sangeeta Murthi Sehgal, director HR at eyecare company Bausch and Lomb, said that when companies or departments stop discrimination between permanent and flexi-staff, then the sector will grow further. You have to accept the contract employee as part of the brand, she said.

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