The good, the bad and the tricky for platform workers

The last few years have seen an exponential increase in the gig economy and this trend will only continue to be driven by people wanting to have flexibility and job autonomy vis-a-vis traditional employment. Within Singapore, there are many workers in the gig economy, a majority of them working for online platforms where they take on roles such as delivery riders, private-hire car drivers and taxi drivers. To date, there are over 73,000 platform workers.

These platforms workers face several issues: 

  • Job security – as gig work is characterised by short-term contracts, they face insecurities in the long run 
  • Benefits – Many workers might not be entitled to the traditional types of benefits employees get such as paid time off, health insurance, hospital leave etc.   
  • Limited advancement opportunities – Traditional employees have career ladders and pathways within organisations but many workers in the gig economy (especially platform workers) do not have access to such career advancement opportunities 

An Advisory Committee on Platform Workers comprising the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC), the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), industry representatives and academia was tasked to look into these areas and make recommendations on how to better protect and provide for platform workers. 

Changes in motion

Come 2024, platform workers can expect the various platform organisations that they work for to provide the same scope and level of compensation as per the Work Injury Compensation Act (WICA), meaning that the organisation that the platform worker is based in is responsible for compensation if they get injured. 

CPF contributions will soon be mandatory for younger gig workers aged 30 and below. Meanwhile, older workers will be given the choice to opt in.

A Telegram poll by finance platform DollarsAndSense also saw a majority of participants agreeing that mandatory CPF contribution will help platform workers with retirement planning.

With CPF,  platform workers will at least have to set aside savings that will go towards their future retirement. In addition, CPF’s compounding interest will also help their savings in the CPF account to grow exponentially. The money in the CPF Ordinary Account can also be put towards paying for an HDB – be it for down payment or monthly mortgage payments. CPF contributions with its compounding effects will certainly go a long way in helping platform workers squirrel away savings. That said, the Labour Movement is also aware that many of these platform workers have low wages and that it is important for the necessary support to be provided during the transition period so as to mitigate the impact on their take-home pay. NTUC has feedbacked to the Government previously on this matter and during Budget 2023, it was announced that there will be 4 years of CPF offset for lower-income Platform Workers with increased CPF Ordinary and Special Account contribution rates.

The SEPs in Singapore are capable of generating incredible value for our economy and society if only we would hand them the tools they need to upgrade themselves.

“By supporting them to upskill, providing skill frameworks for their professions and alleviating their costs of business, I have confidence that the investment they receive will leverage disproportionate returns for our economy.” ” – Labour MP and advisor to the National Taxi Association and National Private Hire Vehicles Association Yeo Wan Ling 

Ultimately all these recommendations are steps in the right direction to help platform workers secure better protection in case of work injury, enhance workplace representation and help them be more financially stable in the long run. With the gig economy here to stay, it’s heartening to see various stakeholders band together to protect the livelihood of platform workers.