Mediation a way of protecting private-hire car drivers

Private-hire car drivers are subject to conditions set by operators and are not protected under the Employment Act.
Private-hire car drivers are subject to conditions set by operators and are not protected under the Employment Act.PHOTO: ST FILE

Private-hire car drivers could have a new avenue to resolve disputes with operators, under a mediation service proposed by the National Private Hire Vehicles Association (NPHVA) and the National Taxi Association (NTA) yesterday.

This is among the recommendations the NPHVA and NTA have submitted to the Government for the next Land Transport Master Plan.

The two bodies noted that while taxi and private-hire car drivers are subject to conditions set by operators, they are not protected under the Employment Act.

"For instance, ride-hailing operators decide the drivers' incentives, (and can) choose to suspend or ban drivers unilaterally," they said, noting that such requirements resulted in drivers becoming "tied freelancers".

Mr Ang Hin Kee, executive adviser to both associations, said that the NPHVA receives about eight or nine cases a week on a range of issues faced by private-hire drivers.

These matters, ranging from contractual matters to insurance claims, as well as the payout of driver incentives, cannot be allowed to fester, he said.

"A better way is to have a mediation process," the Ang Mo Kio GRC MP told The Straits Times.

 

The Land Transport Authority (LTA), as a regulator, would be best placed to act as a neutral mediator in such cases, he said.

He noted that this would be in line with the ongoing review of the regulatory framework for the taxi and private-hire car sectors, which is expected to be completed by the middle of next year.

A similar mediation system introduced for the taxi industry four years ago by the NTA in collaboration with the LTA and taxi companies has helped reduce the number of such disputes between taxi drivers and operators, he said.

As part of their proposals, the two associations reiterated their call for both taxi and private-hire drivers to be able to provide other services, such as delivery, to create more opportunities for drivers to earn revenue.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 20, 2018, with the headline 'Mediation a way of protecting private-hire car drivers'. Print Edition | Subscribe