Article: The story of the Indian flexi-staffing industry

Employee Relations

The story of the Indian flexi-staffing industry

With organic growth in the organised sector, the flexi-staffing industry is estimated to grow to represent 10% of the organised workforce by 2025
The story of the Indian flexi-staffing industry

The Employer Association emphasised the need for legislation of contract labor


With organic growth in the organized sector, the flexi-staffing industry is estimated to grow to represent 10% of the organized workforce by 2025.

In the effort to acquire a regulated industry status for the staffing industry in India, the Indian Staffing Federation, released the first ever Indian Staffing Industry Research 2012 on ‘Turning Available Work into Jobs’. The survey brought out the first ever report on the Indian Flexi Staffing industry that features the size of the Indian flexi-staffing industry, its growth drivers, its benefits to employers, the challenges involved, the regulatory scenario, some internationals trends and ISF’s recommendations for the betterment of the industry.

Numbers show that organized flexi staffing in India is likely to employ 9 million by 2025. And with organic growth in the organized sector the flexi-staffing industry is estimated to grow to represent 10% of the organized workforce by 2025. That would take the current size of the industry from 1.3 million to 9 million.

Honorable Union Minister for Labor & Employment, Mallikarjun Kharge said while unveiling the industry report, “Am hopeful that this report and its findings will enable healthy industrial relations and well being of the temporary staffing workforce in India. Even the Labor Ministry is working towards it and we are providing training to almost 13.5 lakh people till 2011-12 with almost 10,000 ITIs being modernized. All this will ensure better skills in the workforce resulting in better employability.”

K. Pandia Rajan, President, ISF shared the findings and recommendations from the report and affirmed, “The survey showcases India as among the top five nations in terms of flexi worker base which is currently at 1.3 million and is projected to grow to 9 million by 2025. Companies need flexibility to remain competitive, and in the absence of the right environment that supports flexibility in an organized manner, work tends to go casual thereby denying the employee a secure job.” Rituparna Chakraborty, Vice President, ISF, added, “Due to lack of regulation specific to this industry, there is a huge prevalence of unorganized players which are operating outside the ambit of labor laws.”

An interesting agenda that the conclave stressed upon was the urgent need for India as a country to take proactive steps to regulate the flexi staffing industry. A current point of contention is India’s plan to ratify the ILO Convention 181 as a first step. This single move can provide higher security and protection to the Indian flexi worker which as of now does not feature on India’s radar. Gotabaya Dasanayak, Senior Specialist, Employers Activities for South Asia, International Labor Organization (ILO) shared, “Of the 22 countries that have ratified the Convention 181, Japan is the only Asian country.” Michael Dias, Secretary, The Employer Association emphasized the need for legislation of contract labor and said, “In India, freedom of association is guaranteed, and forming a trade union is applicable to contract labor. Ratifying the Convention 181 will recognize the need to guarantee freedom of association and collective bargaining to flexi-staff in India”.

In the absence of regulation, flexi-staff is often left at the mercy of contractors in the unorganized market who do not follow any labor legislation. Thus, these contract staff faces challenges in the absence of any wage, employment and social security. ISF, as a representation of staffing players in India, aims to bridge this gap by bringing about social recognition, wage fairness, social security and employment security. Going by the report, flexi-staff will form 10% or 90 million people of the organized employment. Given this huge number and the efforts to bridge the skill gap between education and employment, bringing greater regulations to flexi-staff labor industry and promoting flexsecurity will help India gain ability to harness its manpower optimally.


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Topics: Employee Relations, Diversity, Life @ Work

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