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Unorganised Worker

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The term ‘unorganized worker’ is defined in India under Section 2(m) of the Unorganized Workers Social Security Act, 2008.

An unorganised worker is a home-based worker or a 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 pertaining to welfare Schemes as mentioned in Schedule-II of Unorganized Workers Social Security Act, 2008.


Thus, unorganised workers are essentially those who do not have the benefit of pension, provident fund, gratuity, maternity leave etc. and work mostly on daily / hourly wages. They are not represented by active trade unions.

Ministry of Labour has categorized the unorganized labour force under four groups in terms of

In addition to the above categories, there exists a large section of unorganised labour force such as cobblers, hamals, handicraft artisans, handloom weavers, lady tailors, physically handicapped self-employed persons, rickshaw pullers/ auto drivers, sericulture workers, carpenters, leather and tannery workers, powerloom workers and urban poor.

Government enacted the “Unorganised Workers’ Social Security Act, 2008 ” with a view to provide social security to unorganized workers like those in hotels, private security etc. The Act provides for constitution of National / State Social Security Board at the central /State level to recommend social security schemes like life and disability cover, health and maternity benefits, old age protection and any other benefit as may be determined by the Government for unorganized workers. Act also provides for registration of unorganised workers.

As such, all unorganised workers including those in hotel, private security and others covered as per the provisions of the Act are eligible to take benefits under the social security schemes/welfare schemes framed under the Act. The ‘’Unorganized workers social Security Act, 2008” came into operation w.e.f 31 December 2008 and it encompasses ten social security schemes benefitting the unorganized workers. Details Beneficiaries of Social Security Schemes Listed Under Schedule-I of the Unorganised Workers Social Security Act, 2008 are given below:

Sl. No. Name of the Scheme Number of Beneficiaries (as on 31.03.2014)
1 Indira Gandhi National Old Age Pension Scheme (IGNOAPS) 2,22,02,018
2 National Family Benefit Scheme 2,77,363
3 Janani Suraksha Yojana 45,39,000
4 Handloom Weavers’ Comprehensive Welfare Scheme 23,48,688
5 Handicraft Artisans’ Comprehensive Welfare Scheme 9,66,280
6 Pension to Master Craft Person ----
7 National Scheme for welfare of Fishermen and Training and Extension 48,81,355
8 &9 Jan Shree Bima Yojana and Aam Aadmi Bima Yojana (AABY)* 4,54,15,082
10 Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana (RSBY) 3,85,00,000
Source: Press release of Ministry of Labour and Employment dated 22 December 2014

It is estimated that the unorganised sector workers, constitute 88% of the total labour force of 47.29 crore, as per the 66th Round of NSSO Survey of 2011-12.

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