Mr Leon Perera asked the Minister for Manpower whether the Government will (i) consider regulating platform companies to ensure they do not encourage excessive risk-taking by gig and platform workers to fulfil orders, such as by taking on too many jobs an hour or riding during dangerous weather and (ii) study the artificial intelligence and algorithms of such platform companies to ensure that this is not the case.
Dr Tan See Leng: While platform companies may want to incentivise platform workers to complete more jobs within a limited time span, this must not be at the expense of safety and health, especially given the inherent risks of being on the road.
The Workplace Safety and Health (WSH) Council is currently working with delivery platforms and companies to review work processes to enhance the safety of delivery platform workers and employees on the road to prevent accidents. More details will be shared when ready. This builds on existing efforts by the WSH Council to guide industry road safety practices for companies, such as through circulars to emphasise their safety duties.
At the same time, the Advisory Committee on Platform Workers is looking to strengthen protections for platform workers, including financial compensation in case of work injury. Work is ongoing and is expected to be completed before the end of 2022.
Arising from the Committee’s work, a Tripartite Workgroup has also been formed to propose a framework that allows platform workers to be formally represented, and that balances the interests of platform workers and platform companies. Stronger representation will also provide another avenue for issues such as safety to be tackled by tripartite partners more effectively. The Workgroup is led by the tripartite partners as well as representatives from platform companies and platform worker associations. The Workgroup targets to complete its work in 2023.
MOM will assess and review the collective impact of these efforts on the safety and health of platform workers when they are implemented, and consider further measures if necessary. On the Member’s suggestion to regulate the incentives and algorithms of platform companies, these are complex and we need to be cautious about regulating them. As I have described, we have set in motion various tripartite processes and should allow the tripartite partners to work through these safety issues rather than jump to regulation and risk over-regulation.
Ministry of Manpower
12 September 2022