Grab limits performance-based commission rebates to 18,000 drivers and cuts other schemes

Grab also announced a series of initiatives to help drivers switch careers if they need to. ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

SINGAPORE - In a sign of the challenges facing ride-hailing firms, Grab will be limiting its sought-after performance-based commission rebate to 18,000 drivers, and dropping a series of schemes, including monthly trip-target bonuses and birthday rewards.

The firm also separately announced on Thursday (June 11) a series of initiatives it will introduce to help drivers switch careers if they need to.

Placing a cap on the performance-based commission rebate is likely to prove unpopular with drivers.

An attempt in February to drop the rebate scheme failed after drivers criticised the move.

The various schemes help to boost the income of Grab's drivers with extra cash in the wallet and through cuts in monthly commissions the firm takes from bookings.

The firm does not disclose its driver numbers, but it is the largest private-hire operator in Singapore.

In a message to drivers on Thursday seen by The Straits Times, Grab said 18,000 drivers who contribute the most commissions each quarter from July 1 will get a 12 per cent rebate on the commissions paid to the firm.

This translates into the drivers paying 17.6 per cent of the fares to Grab, instead of the usual 20 per cent.

Previously, any driver who consecutively completes more than 200 trips monthly for at least three months could get at least a 10 per cent rebate on the monthly commission due.

It could even go up to 55 per cent for eligible drivers.

The latest moves come in the wake of plunging demand for ride-hailing services due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Grab had earlier cut the pay of its senior management by up to 20 per cent and encouraged its staff to take voluntary no-pay leave as part of cost cutting measures.

The Government had also stepped in with two support packages for the point-to-point sector.

Full-time drivers, for instance, are eligible for the Self-Employed Person Income Relief Scheme, which provides eligible self-employed persons with $1,000 a month for nine months.

Under the new scheme, Grab drivers must meet requirements such as having a low cancellation rate for rides.

Those who do not turn on the option to automatically accept jobs will not be eligible for the incentive.

In its message to drivers, Grab described the new scheme as being "tailored for the changing environment".

"Our community has been badly hit by Covid-19. Ride demand has fallen, and we tried our best to help with months of funding support for our driver-partner community.

"The next few months - possibly even year, will determine how we all emerge from this pandemic.

"So we are introducing new initiatives and features like compensations for cancellations with new quotas, to improve your experience on our platform and create more opportunities for you."

Grab said it is also launching new training and career support initiatives to help train drivers for the ride-hailing job and help them if they want to leave.

In a media briefing, Grab Singapore's head of transport, Mr Andrew Chan, said its driver partners need to prepare for a new normal, and "this may include seeking other earning sources to supplement their income".

Grab aims to help about 2,000 to 3,000 drivers in the next six months through three initiatives.

They comprise training courses conducted by Ngee Ann Polytechnic (NP); a new career support portal that helps train and link up drivers to potential new jobs; and a freelance work portal.

The two training courses conducted by NP will run over two days.

They will be compulsory for all new drivers, who will learn customer service skills and how to maintain their vehicles.

The career support portal aims to help drivers who are looking for opportunities outside of Grab but without the knowledge or skills to do so.

As a start, it will focus on tech or digital roles across different industries.

It will provide drivers with access to career advice, introductory courses, training certification and placement and networking opportunities.

Partners for the portal include Microsoft, LinkedIn and Workforce Singapore (WSG).

The third initiative - the portal to link up drivers to freelance jobs - is also a collaboration between Grab and WSG.

It will introduce a new function in Grab's driver app that curates job opportunities from WSG's portal to let drivers search for suitable jobs to supplement their earnings.

Grab's Mr Chan said: "We hope that these programmes will collectively elevate our driver-partners' skill sets, as well as prepare them for their future as we work together to minimise the economic impact of the pandemic."

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