More support needed for platform workers' retirement needs, baseline work injury coverage

<p>pixdelivery/ST20211006_202128885347/Ng Sor Luan/Delivery riders during lunch time in Bt. Panjang on Oct 6, 2021.</p><p/><p>Generic photos of food delivery riders. News has a story on food delivery and how people can't get their food because their ord
Platform workers make up about 3 per cent, or 79,000 people, of Singapore's resident workforce. ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN

SINGAPORE - People in jobs such as deliverymen or private-hire and taxi drivers need more help to meet their retirement and housing needs, as well as a baseline level of coverage for work injuries.

The suggestions stemmed from an advisory committee set up to look into strengthening protections for this group of people, who are known as platform workers as they typically use an online platform such as Grab to provide services.

They comprise about 3 per cent, or 79,000 people, of Singapore's resident workforce.

The advisory committee started a public consultation exercise last month that looked at areas such as improving the housing and retirement adequacy for these workers, strengthening their financial protection in case of work injury and getting better representation to help them improve their working conditions and labour relations.

Around 1,300 submissions were received from respondents, including platform companies and workers.

Most respondents agreed that there should be greater support for the retirement and housing needs of platform workers, said Dr Koh Poh Koon, Senior Minister of State for Health and Manpower, in a Facebook post on Thursday (Dec 30).

"Some suggested having platform companies make Central Provident Fund contributions for workers, while others felt that platform workers should bear their own responsibility," he added.

There was also a general consensus that there ought to be a baseline level of coverage by platform companies for work injuries, Dr Koh said.

But there were differing views on whether this level should be the same as the coverage for employees, or lower, since platform workers are not employees.

The respondents also backed giving platform workers better representation to help them improve their working conditions.

"While some supported doing so through forming unions or an independent body... others preferred a less formal structure," said Dr Koh.

Other concerns also cropped up, such as the cost implications that could arise from strengthening the protection of platform workers, he added.

These include an impact on take-home pay and an effect on consumer prices.

Dr Koh, who is also adviser to the committee, said: "(Be) rest assured that the advisory committee takes all feedback seriously and will continue to consult widely.

"There are no easy answers, but the advisory committee will study the options and work through the challenges with stakeholders."

He said the committee is making "good progress" and will share updates in the coming months.

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