Forum: Balance protection of gig workers' rights with flexibility

There is a need for contract workers to meet the changing needs of Singapore's healthcare response (Nurses and volunteers wanted amid healthcare manpower shortage as Covid-19 cases surge, Feb 20; and Clinics hiring, staff working extra shifts in order to extend operating hours for Covid-19, Feb 23).

Creative and agile policies are required to incentivise workers to take up contract work. There should also not be too rigid a focus on the legal distinction between employees and independent contractors.

The public sector can take the initiative in how it contracts service providers to balance the protection of workers' rights with the flexibility that workers and firms desire.

The Government could consider some of the suggestions made by labour MP Desmond Choo in Parliament last year, one of which was to provide gig workers with "some level of statutory protection" under the Employment Act (Labour MP urges stronger laws to protect gig workers, Feb 25, 2021).

Bernard Lim

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