Should more be done for delivery riders?

Picture this – it’s a particular hot day, you’re hungry for some food and bubble tea but do not wish to head out. You whip out your phone and with a few taps, managed to order yourself a feast and can just Netflix and chill while waiting for it.

We’ve all experienced the convenience of food delivery and heard of people who took up jobs as a delivery rider when COVID hit and affected their jobs.

Freelancers or more employee-like?

Delivery riders are currently considered freelancers, which means that the delivery platforms/companies do not have to provide them with benefits such as CPF, insurance and paid leave. Therein lies the issue, usually freelancers are able to dictate their own price and working hours – however, some have argued that delivery riders are more “employee-like” than freelancers because they are paid according to the metrics determined by delivery platforms and can’t set their own fees/earnings.


Recently, NTUC’s Secretary-General Ng Chee Meng took to the streets with Mothership to interview some delivery riders. Those riders pointed out some similar issues they face, which include not having medical coverage and no CPF. Mr Ng also pointed out that delivery riders fall into a “grey zone” as they are price takers and do not dictate the rate of their earnings. When he asked if riders would like for a union to represent them or for NTUC to help them, they all said a resounding yes.

Safeguarding delivery riders through CPF

During the recent National Day Rally (NDR) speech, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said that he was concerned for delivery riders as they did not enjoy the usual benefits given to a regular employee. Hence, the Government is looking into the issue of having employer CPF for these riders. This is to ensure and safeguard their retirement future.

The lack of CPF savings could snowball into a future problem for these riders and their retirement. As more of them join this trade and as the COVID battle extends, what was initially thought to be a temporary job has become more permanent than expected. This could hurt their long-term retirement plan if they do not think about setting aside a portion of their monthly earnings into their own CPF.

What about medical coverage and paid leave?

Apart from the issue of not having employer CPF, delivery riders often do not have medical coverage or paid leave. They are also less likely to attend training or upskilling courses because their take home pay is determined by the number of orders they fulfill every day. Taking a few days or hours to attend courses translate to a tangible loss of income for them. Hence, it is important for a third party like a union or NTUC to step in to negotiate for their welfare.

As Mr Ng pointed out during the live session, NTUC hopes to provide catered training to these delivery workers. This could include some training allowance to alleviate the loss of income, thus encouraging them to upskill.

All in all, the recent discussions are positive for delivery riders and we hope they get better safeguards for the work that they do!

You know what? Food can be replaced, but not the delivery rider!

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