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Body Temperature and Key Strokes: COVID-19 and changing systems of worker monitoring in India. Early Insights from a Live-tracker

August 15, 2021

Urvashi Aneja   Harsh Ghildiyal, Joanne D’Cunha

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Summary

This new paper examines the challenges and risks related to the use of digital technologies to test and monitor worker health and productivity in India.

*The views expressed here do not necessarily represent those of IDRC or its Board of Governors. This work was carried out with the aid of a grant from the International Development Research Centre, Ottawa, Canada. 

 

The outbreak of Covid-19 has inextricably linked work and health. Looking for ways to normalise economic activity without jeopardizing public health, governments and businesses are using digital technologies to test and monitor worker health. Simultaneously, for those workers compelled to work from home, employers are relying on digital technologies to monitor productivity.

While some of these measures may be necessary to manage the pandemic and its effects, they also raise concerns around worker privacy, rights and agency.

Since the outbreak of the pandemic, Tandem Research have maintained a global tracker to document the use of new technological tools to monitor workers. The tracker monitored development and adoption of digital technologies to monitor workers globally between April 2020 and January 2021. This was done by reviewing existing media articles, grey literature, policy documents, tenders, and public announcements by employers.

Based on this global tracker, we did three mini-case studies to of worker monitoring in India – dived deeper into three sectors in India – gig workers on food delivery platforms, factory workers and IT company workers.

The document concludes with a set of policy recommendations on how existing regulatory frameworks could adapt to meet the demands of the new workplace.

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