Govt concerned about platform workers without basic job protections, will convene Advisory Committee

Koh noted that the work arrangements for such workers can resemble those of employees.

Matthias Ang | September 16, 2021, 09:56 PM

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An advisory committee will be convened to look into strengthening protections for platform workers, specifically delivery workers, private-hire car drivers (PHV) and taxi drivers, and ensuring that they have a more balanced relationship with the platform they work for, Senior Minister of State for Manpower Koh Poh Koon stated.

Speaking in Parliament on Sep. 14, Koh noted that as the contract of such workers with platform companies were not employment contracts, they do not have basic job protections such as work injury compensation, union representation and employer CPF.

Koh said, "This is a concern as more people take up such work and some at a young age."

Work arrangements for such workers can resemble those of employees

Koh further highlighted that the work arrangements of these workers can resemble those of employees, given that the platform companies set the price of their product, determine the assignment of the workers' jobs, and manage the workers' performance, including imposing penalties and suspensions.

In addition, most of these workers were already earning a modest income, even before the impact of Covid-19, and may find it harder to afford housing, healthcare and retirement as a result.

In breaking down the demographics of such workers, Koh noted that in 2020, there were 190,000 people engaged in self employment as their main source of income, of which around 79,000 worked with matching platform companies.

Among this group of 79,000 workers, about half are PHV drivers, one-third are taxi drivers, while the rest are mostly car and light goods vehicle drivers, who use delivery service platforms to obtain delivery work.

From 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.

Fatality rate has remained low

Noting that a related question on the number of injuries and fatalities suffered by food and goods delivery riders had been filed, Koh replied that the number of fatalities has remained low.

Koh said, "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."

NTUC also seeking better benefits for platform workers

Back in August, National Trades Union Congress head Ng Chee Meng also expressed similar concerns about workers without basic job protections.

Speaking to Mothership, Ng said that his union will seek more for such workers, including better medical benefits.

Ng added that Central Provident Fund (CPF) was also an issue raised by the delivery riders.

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Top Photo via Zye Hensem /Facebook, Petrina Ng/Facebook