Employer–Employee Relationship and Informality: An Employer Perspective in Times of Distress

Kinjal Sampat, Sharon Buteau  | 2023


Narratives and understanding of the contours of characteristics of labour in India circumscribed in its hard-to-overlook, all-encompassing narrative of ‘informality’. A number of in-depth studies generally adopting an ethnographic approach have attempted to understand the labour side of the story by interviewing employees only. All have in different ways emphasised the ‘footlooseness of labour’2 or in other words, a weak employer–employee relationship. In the absence of systematic large-scale data, it is difficult to establish its extent. Relying on a six-wave panel survey of about 1,400 microenterprises conducted between March 2020 and January 2022, we attempt to re-examine and nuance our understanding of the average employer–employee relationship in the present times. This survey was conducted jointly by the Global Alliance for Mass Entrepreneurship and Krea University across India. A stratified convenience sample of 1,461 micro businesses was drawn from various partnering organisations to represent subindustries in manufacturing, services and trade. Data was collected through telephonic surveys. The bulk of the microenterprises in the sample are situated in Tier-3 cities and rural areas.