Compensation, injury claims for gig workers to be studied by panel

The advisory committee on platform workers will study how to strengthen protection of delivery workers, private-hire car drivers and cabbies, said Senior Minister of State for Manpower Koh Poh Koon yesterday.

It will also look into "ensuring a more balanced relationship" between them and the companies they work with, as well as compensation and better protection from workplace injuries, he said.

Several MPs had asked about protections for gig workers.

In his National Day Rally speech on Aug 29, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) would study how to better support such workers. He noted that workers for delivery platforms such as foodpanda, Grab and Deliveroo have no employment contracts and lack basic job protections such as workplace injury compensation, union representation and employer Central Provident Fund contributions.

Yesterday, Dr Koh said that about 79,000 people worked with matching platforms for their main source of income last year.

Of these, about half were private-hire car drivers and one-third were taxi drivers. The rest were mostly car and light goods vehicle drivers using delivery service platforms to obtain delivery work.

From 2018 to last year, the median monthly income of full-time employed residents in these three occupations ranged between $1,500 and $2,000, Dr Koh said.

Mr Melvin Yong (Radin Mas) asked about injuries and fatalities among food and goods delivery riders, and whether these could be related to riders rushing to meet daily incentive targets.

Dr Koh said there were two deaths of such workers each year in 2019 and last year. There were no such deaths in 2018 - the first year these figures were tracked. There is no data on traffic-related injuries for such riders, he added.

Dr Tan Wu Meng (Jurong GRC) asked if the compensation and support provided to the families of gig workers who had lost their lives were comparable to that provided in cases of similar accidents in delivery firms.

Dr Koh said he did not have the information, but as gig workers are not treated as employees, the amount of compensation, if any, "would not be commensurate with what employees would probably get under the Employment Act".

The issue of compensation is something the advisory committee would look into, Dr Koh said.

Ms Yeo Wan Ling (Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC) asked if MOM would consider a longer-term safety net for platform workers.

Dr Koh said the committee would deliberate this, "striking a good balance between maintaining flexibility of work while ensuring some degree of protection and stability for their longer-term goals, whether it's housing or retirement".

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 15, 2021, with the headline 'Compensation, injury claims for gig workers to be studied by panel'. Subscribe