6 Struggles Food Delivery Workers Face They Wish You Knew

Grab delivery man on bicycle

A decade ago, Food Panda, GrabFood and the likes did not exist and now they’re thriving essential businesses. Food delivery platforms in Singapore have seen a spike in rider signups following the start of Circuit Breaker, demand for food delivery is booming. Now, on the other end, have you ever wondered how it’s like being a food delivery worker?

TLDR: Cut them some slack, they face a lot of struggles day to day!

I don’t know about you, but when the fried chicken and bubble tea cravings hit at night, they are more essential than anything else to me!

Man in fur coat
The bubble tea life chose us.

Here are six struggles food delivery workers face they wish you knew.

Delivery riders face a lot of rude customers.

Just last week, I offered my Grab deliveryman a drink and he was so, so grateful – the beam he gave in return brightened up my evening too! You see, Goh shared with me how he had been facing rude and unreasonable customers on his deliveries the whole day. There was the uncle who took forever to come to the door and forced him to slip the food through a tiny gap in the door, and there was the teenager who scolded him for “triggering” the family dog.

The thing is, the work of a food delivery worker is not an easy one. What would make the difference for these workers would be your attitude towards them! It really doesn’t cost a thing to be nice yah?

Time is money.

Time is money to many of these food delivery workers and they try to maximise the deliveries done in any day. The more deliveries they make, the more they earn.

Because of this, many hardly take sick days off if they can tahan! I was told that some even cut down on toilet breaks if they can help it!

Not into tipping? Food delivery workers really appreciate your tips!

$2 in tips may not mean a lot to you, but it really makes their day.

Remember this the next time you place a delivery order OK? Give these workers some recognition by not skimping on tips! Other than showing your gratitude, leaving a tip serves a pragmatic purpose in supporting these food delivery workers who are often economically vulnerable and in difficult personal circumstances.

Traffic is the bane of their lives.

Before you tekan a delivery person for arriving with your food late, do consider that they probably aren’t the ones truly responsible for the delay. Hello, you think they don’t want to make more deliveries and earn more meh?

You see, at times the restaurant may be slower in prepping, and other times, there could be terrible traffic jams causing the delay. These are completely out of their control. To take it out on them is rather unfair, don’t you think?

Bottom line: Have some patience, watch a YouTube video and chill while you wait in the comfort of your own home maybe?

Food delivery workers are constantly on the road—whether that’s via motorbikes, bicycles or car. They need 101% focus. Also, because food delivery orders increase when the weather is bad, while rushing to take on more deliveries, they may have to speed through wet and slippery roads!

If the person delivering your order seems irritated, tryyy to have some empathy and imagine what it must be like to be in their shoes.  Travelling in the wet weather with other drivers who must be equally eager to get home can’t be fun.

They are among some of the most vulnerable workers during this pandemic.

Food delivery workers are some of the most vulnerable members of society. The current pandemic poses a new threat – they don’t have the option of working from home, and are putting their own health at risk by delivering food and running around all day.

In recent years, NTUC Income has also rolled out policies tailored for freelancers to compensate them for income lost due to medical leave, or hospitalisation. NTUC Income’s Prolonged Medical Leave insurance plan for freelancers and SEPs if they are unable to work because of illness or an injury. Policyholders can get a daily cash benefit of S$60 to S$200, depending on their policy tier.

There is also a group that has been working hard to strengthen the income security, skills mastery and collective interests of this group of vulnerable workers. Launched in 2015, the Freelancers and Self-Employed Unit (U FSE) is a National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) initiative to represent the growing pool of freelancers and self-employed person ​in Singapore.

Food delivery workers do recognise the need to upskill and pivot.

Team of workers
​Azhrin (in white) with the foodpanda team

Azhrin, 31, is one food delivery worker who believes in the need to upskill and be adaptable. Much to his delight, his relentless hard work paid off when he was promoted to the position of Area Manager!

Now, did this happen by chance? Azhrin credits his success to the in-house training offered by foodpanda. Excel and leadership courses were some of the training that the company sent him for. Azhrin was also posted to Kuala Lumpur for 10 months to assist the KL team in setting up their operations. For him, the experience was a wonderful learning opportunity.

While many food delivery workers are more focused on critical bread and butter issues to tackle day to day, other food delivery workers have taken advantage of the total of $88 million that was made available to support our SEPs to go for training. Leveraging the Government’s SEP Training Support Scheme and co-funded by the Government and NTUC, SEPs could then earn as they train.

With these training support, hopefully our food delivery workers can gain more skills and pivot in due course!

In the meantime, for you and me, it doesn’t hurt to remember that our food delivery workers are human too! A little kindness, empathy and more practically, $1 or 2 in tips will go a long way. After all, many of us couldn’t have made it through the Circuit Breaker period without these forgotten frontliners supporting us through!

Who is Helping PMD Riders?

Cover image via