gig workers

Due to the nature of gig workers' job, they are not under basic employment protections such as work injury compensation, union representation, and CPF contributions, Senior Minister of Stater for Manpower noted.

In the latest parliamentary sitting (14 September 2021), Singapore's Senior Minister of State for Manpower, Dr Koh Poh Koon, answered a series of questions from fellow ministers and members of parliament (MPs) about the number of gig workers in the country, their work fatalities and casualities, and their livelihoods.

Minister Koh shared, in 2020, there were approximately 190,000 self-employed persons (SEPs), of which about 79,000 worked with matching platform companies (i.e Grab, foodpanda, and Deliveroo). In this case, SEPs cited here refer to regular own account workers who operate their own business without hiring any paid employees.

"It does not include the other self-employed categories of ‘employers’ and ‘contributing family workers’," the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) explained.

Among such platform workers:

  • About half are private-hire car drivers;
  • One-third are taxi drivers, and
  • The rest are mostly car and light goods vehicle drivers, who use delivery service platforms to obtain delivery work.

Further, between 2018 to 2020, the median monthly income of full-time employed residents in these three occupations ranged between S$1,500 and S$2,000.

With regard to the number of injuries and fatalities suffered by food and goods delivery riders, Minister Koh shared that the number has remained low. "In 2019 and 2020, there were two fatalities each year. In 2018, the first year we started tracking this, there was zero fatalities. We do not currently have data on traffic-related injuries suffered by these delivery riders," he said.

In terms of gig workers' livelihoods, Minister Koh first drew attention to how the work arrangements of platform workers are. "The platform companies set the price of their product, determine which jobs are assigned to which workers, and manage how the workers perform, including imposing penalties and suspensions. Most platform workers earn a modest income, even before the impact of COVID-19, and may find it harder to afford housing, healthcare and retirement," he explained.

On that note, the Minister added gig workers do not have basic job protections that most employees enjoy, such as work injury compensation, union representation and employer CPF as their contracts with platform companies are not employment contracts. "This is a concern as more people take up such work and some at a young age," he said.

To look into strengthening protections for platform workers, specifically delivery workers, private-hire car drivers and taxi drivers, and ensuring a more balanced relationship between platforms and platform workers, Minister Koh said that an Advisory Committee will be convened.

"The committee will need time to consult widely with stakeholders and study these issues carefully before making its recommendations. The points raised by members will be shared with the Advisory Committee, so that they can take them into account when studying the issues."

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