Countries such as India, Brazil and Nigeria may face serious job losses in the informal sector, the UN's International Labour Organisation (ILO) warned.
"In India, with a share of almost 90 per cent of people working in the informal economy, about 400 million workers in the informal economy are at risk of falling deeper into poverty during the crisis," it said in a report that described the COVID-19 pandemic as "the worst global crisis" since the Second World War.
"Current lockdown measures in India, which are at the high end of the University of Oxford’s COVID-19 Government Response Stringency Index, have impacted these workers significantly, forcing many of them to return to rural areas," the ILO said on Tuesday.
The number of people working in the informal sector worldwide is estimated to be two billion.
Full or partial lockdown measures are now affecting 2.7 billion workers, representing 81 per cent of the global workforce.
An estimated 1.25 billion workers are employed in sectors such as retail, accommodation and food services, and manufacturing that are now facing a severe decline in output, the ILO report noted.