Ride-hailing platform Grab yesterday launched a free medical leave insurance scheme for drivers - but they must hit a minimum level of earnings.
Mr Andrew Chan, Grab Singapore's transport head, said the company has rolled out the scheme to "push the boundaries in offering even more comprehensive support and benefits" for private-hire drivers on its platform.
"Drivers' earnings are something we recognise as core to their livelihoods and families," he added.
Currently, Grab offers a range of benefits, from fuel discounts to scholarships and bursaries for drivers' children.
The new scheme comes on the back of recommendations by a tripartite work group on self-employed persons that the Government accepted in February last year.
It will be on top of Grab's existing free personal accident insurance provided for all drivers and passengers on its platform. And it covers "the majority of Grab driver-partners for free", a Grab spokesman said, without providing specific figures on its fleet size.
Payouts are determined by how often private-hire drivers use Grab, their earnings and the duration of their medical or hospitalisation leave. To qualify for the coverage, the drivers have to have earned about $2,000 in fares per month.
The scheme covers medical leave from the sixth day onwards, to a maximum of 14 days, and hospitalisation leave from the second day onwards, up to 60 days.
Drivers will be reimbursed between 50 and 85 per cent of their average daily earnings, within a range between $30 and $200. Calculations are done based on their earnings from Grab for the past 90 days before they fell sick or got injured.
According to Grab's website, the payout will take about 10 days after Chubb Insurance receives the claim forms, if no additional documents are required. Drivers who are not covered can sign up for another insurance scheme that the company will launch soon, the Grab spokesman said.
Mr Cedric Lim, a private-hire driver on Grab's platform, suggested that the insurance coverage would be more helpful if the duration before medical leave coverage kicks in could be shortened to fewer than six days.
Rent, which costs more than $100 a day, is his primary worry.
Mr Lim, 28, who drives a Mercedes E-class for Grab's higher-end service, said: "When I'm sick, I'm concerned if my rental can be paid or not, and not about my earnings for that day."
A spokesman for competitor Gojek Singapore said the company is "close to finalising partnerships with a number of... companies - including insurance and healthcare providers - to offer a comprehensive suite of welfare benefits for all of our driver-partners". More details will be out soon, he added.
A Deliveroo spokesman said its riders currently have accident insurance, which the food delivery service rolled out in May last year.
"Deliveroo would like to go further... and offer riders more benefits, but runs the risk of courts reclassifying riders' employment status, which could reduce their ability to work flexibly," he added.
"Deliveroo is campaigning for a change in the law so that riders can have both flexibility and security."
A Foodpanda spokesman said its fleet is made up of independent contractors who have the choice to sign up for insurance packages at preferential rates from the company's insurance partners.
"Rider safety is a very important topic for Foodpanda," he added.
Mr Ang Hin Kee, executive adviser at the National Private Hire Vehicles Association, called Grab's move "a step in the right direction". The association has been in "close consultation with Grab", he added.
"We hope more can be done so that eventually, all drivers can be protected with the (prolonged medical leave) insurance."