Article Title:
Legal reforms for the self-employed: three urban cases
Title of Journal:
Indian Journal of Industrial Relations
Vol. #:
Issue #:
Chen, Martha, Roopa Madhav and Kamala Sankaran.
July, 2014
Publication Type:
Journal Article

Four out of five urban workers in modern India are engaged in the informal economy, and half of these are self-employed. This article examines what legal reforms are needed for home-based producers, street vendors and waste pickers who together represent one-fifth of the urban workforce. The article describes the conditions of employment and work processes of these groups, and introduces key organizations of these workers. It then examines the legal demands of these organizations, grouped under: municipal, sector-specific, employment or commercial, and macro-economic. Finally the article draws out lessons for legal reforms for the self-employed including the need for legal identity and incorporation into economic planning.

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