NTUC calls for transitional support for platform workers following mandatory CPF contributions

These recommendations must not be at the expense of fair earnings for platform workers. 

23 Nov – The Advisory Committee on platform workers announced that the Government has accepted the recommendations to strengthen protection for platform workers. This will affect all platform workers regardless of income level – and will affect some 73,000 regular taxi drivers, private-hire drivers and delivery workers. 

It includes 12 recommendations, under three areas of concern – (i) ensuring adequate financial protection in case of work injury, (ii) improving housing and retirement adequacy & (iii) enhancing representation. 

Why the need for these recommendations? 

NTUC and its affiliated associations – National Taxi Association (NTA), National Private Hire Vehicles Association (NPHVA) and the National Delivery Champions (NDCA) made the call for stronger legislative backing for platform workers to protect them in recognition of the need for representation, advocate and advance their interests. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong recognised this in his 2021 National Day Rally speech – and thereafter  set up the Advisory Commitee on Platform Workers which first convened in September 2021. 

Since then, tripartite partners have been in close discussion on key issues that impact platform workers. 

What do these recommendations entail? 

Ensuring adequate financial protection in case of work injury

According to a joint statement issued by NTUC, NTA, NPHVA and NDCA, platform workers are vulnerable in terms of not being able to claim under the Work Injury Compensation Act (WICA). Under the new recommendations, platform companies (i.e. Grab, Gojek, TADA) will now be required to provide the same scope and level of work injury compensation as employees’ entitlement WICA. 

Improving housing and retirement adequacy of platform workers 

Under the recommendations, platform companies and workers will be required to align CPF contribution rates, particularly for workers below the age of 30. This also means that companies are required to collect the CPF contributions of workers to help them make timely contributions. Older cohorts of platform workers aged 30 and above will be given the option to opt-in to the full CPF contribution regime, in the first year of implementation. 

As this will place an impact on their take-home pay, the CPF contributions will be phased over five years, subject to economic conditions. NTUC has also called on the Government to provide sufficient support to platform workers, and supports the phased-in approach as this will help to smoothen the impact on all stakeholders. 

NTUC and its associations have also affirmed that they will “stand ready to work with the Government.” 

In a Facebook post, NTUC’s Secretary General Ng Chee Meng recognised the potential challenges for some platform workers in meeting their immediate needs, especially in the CPF space.

We will continue this work. There is much more to be done. For example, in the CPF space, I recognise potential challenges for some platform workers in meeting immediate needs. We will work with the Government for potential transition measures to support our platform workers. Beyond these immediate steps, NTUC wants to ensure fair wages for the platform workers like we do for unionised workers – that their wages commensurate with their roles, and any measures put in place should not greatly impact their take-home pay. This is the way to ensure a sustainable way to promote better earnings, better welfare and better work prospects for my sisters and brothers in this industry.

Enhancing representation for Platform Workers 

A Tripartite Workgroup (TWG) on Representation of Platform Workers has also been set up in August this year, providing a platform for stakeholders and associations (who do not have any legal right to representation) – to agree on workers’ representation and set in place an enhanced framework that will close the imbalance between platforms and platform workers. 

NTUC also added that they will remain focused in ensuring that platform workers are not adversely affected by the implementation of the recommendations, which must not be at the expense of fair earnings to platform workers. 

NPHVA , NDCA and NTA have also posted statements on their Facebook pages.

When will these recommendations be rolled out? 

The Government will continue to work with platform workers and companies to implement the recommendations in a progressive manner, from the later part of 2024 at the earliest. 

Ms Yeo Wan Ling, Advisor to the NTA, NPHVA and NDCA, said,

“The rollout of the recommendations is a significant step forward in advancing the protection of platform workers and we are pleased with the progress made. Nonetheless, more work lies ahead to operationalise the recommendations, which we are committed in ensuring that these are not at the expense of our workers’ fair earnings. Our associations will monitor the upcoming implementation of recommendations and continue engaging our platform workers to ensure that their concerns and queries are addressed.”

Ms Yeo also took to Facebook to reaffirm her support for the recommendations, and NTUC’s commitment to supporting platform workers through this transitionary period

NTUC Deputy Secretary-General Desmond Tan also shared discussions that he had with some drivers and delivery riders following the announcement:

“The drivers and riders shared their support for the recommendations and shared some concerns on details of the implementation, in relation to CPF contributions, work injury coverage and representation. As a unique industry which requires tailor-made recommendations, platform workers should still be able to enjoy the flexibility that the gig industry offers while being able to have better protections and a more secure future.

Read the full recommendations report at this link: https://www.mom.gov.sg/pwac-report 




About Author

Editing is my work.