SINGAPORE - Ride-hailing platform Grab launched on Wednesday (Jan 16) a free medical leave insurance scheme for drivers who frequently use its service, in a move to protect them against a loss of earnings.
Mr Andrew Chan, Grab Singapore's transport head, said the company has rolled out the scheme in a move to "push the boundaries in offering even more comprehensive support and benefits" for private-hire drivers on its platform.
"Drivers' earnings is something we recognise as core to their livelihoods and families," he added.
Currently, Grab offers a range of benefits, from fuel discounts to scholarship and bursaries, for drivers' children.
The new scheme comes on the back of recommendations made by a tripartite work group on self-employed persons that the Government accepted in February last year.
It covers "the majority of Grab driver-partners for free", a spokesman for Grab 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, private-hire drivers had 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, to a maximum of 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 injured themselves.
According to Grab's website, the payout will take about 10 days after Chubb Insurance received 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 will be more helpful if the duration for medical leave 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 could be paid or not, not about my earnings for that day.”
A spokesman for its competitor, Gojek, 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 released 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 riders’ ability to work flexibly,” he added.
“Deliveroo is campaigning for a change in the law so that riders can have both flexibility and security.”
Mr Ang Hin Kee, executive adviser at the National Private Hire Vehicles Association, said “the move is 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,” he said.