COS 2022: Own Account Workers Welfare and Protection

MP Louis Chua

Mr Chua Kheng Wee Louis: There is an increase in gig economy workers in recent years but many are in a precarious position. This is something that the Government has taken note of.

Prime Minister Lee had spoken in his National Day Rally last year on how most gig workers earn only a modest income and they lack protections such as work injury compensation and, of course, employer CPF contributions.

However, there have been arguments made on how if changes are implemented, markets may be distorted resulting in consumers bearing the costs. This may be a false premise, however, as to the extent that the cost burden falls on more relatively better off consumers who regularly utilise services provided by gig workers, such as food delivery and private hire transport, this could be beneficial from a societal point-of-view. After all, the benefits to gig workers discussed should outweigh the costs to relatively better off consumers of a marginal increase in the price of food delivered to their door by a cyclist on a wet rainy day.

Since the UK Supreme Court ruling that Uber drivers should be treated as workers in February 2021, other jurisdictions have moved strongly on gig worker protections. The EU have proposed a test on how digital platforms manage gig workers. Malaysia is also looking into a need for gig workers regulations.

Hence, I would like to ask the Ministry if legislation will be introduced to protect the rights of gig workers and provide them with at least the minimum levels of benefits and protection and safety nets such as insurance and work injury compensation?

Further, with effect from 1 September 2022, all companies who hire foreign workers will be required to pay all their local employees at least the local qualifying salary (LQS). While not named a minimum wage per se, this at least provides for local workers with at least the ability to earn a minimum of $1,400 per month. Gig economy workers today have no control over their earnings, and are subject to the ever tightening incentive schemes in order to barely make ends meet. Could efforts be done to ensure that they earn at least a fair wage, with reference to locals working part-time earning at least $9 per hour as per the LQS?

4 March 2022
Ministry of Manpower

https://sprs.parl.gov.sg/search/sprs3topic?reportid=budget-1863

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