Singapore extends injury compensation, pension benefits to gig workers

Gig workers will not qualify as employees, but would gain injury compensation, pension benefits under new rules

Singapore extends injury compensation, pension benefits to gig workers

Gig workers across Singapore won't be considered employees, according to the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), but they will soon have the benefits of work injury compensation and pension coverage that regular employees enjoy.

The announcement came as the Singapore government accepted the recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Platform Workers, which looked into strengthening protections for gig workers in the country.

The committee recommended that platform workers shouldn't be classified as employees, but platform companies which "exert a significant level of management control" should be required to provide them with certain basic protections.

Among these protections: work injury compensation on the same level that regular employees are entitled to under the Work Injury Compensation Act.

This would require platform companies to "be responsible for compensation, based on the platform worker's total earnings from the platform sector in which the injury was sustained."

The recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Platform Workers also sought to "align" the pension contribution rates of platform companies and platform workers with regular employers and employees. According to the recommendations, platform companies would be required to collect platform workers' Central Provident Fund contributions.

The recommendations also called for better formal representation for gig workers by setting up a Tripartite Workgroup on Representation for Platform Workers to develop a new representation framework.

In accepting the recommendations, the government said necessary changes will have to be made to legislation.

"The Government will continue to work with Platform Workers and Platform Companies to implement the recommendations in a progressive manner from the later part of 2024 at the earliest," MOM said in a statement.

The changes are expected to affect around 79,000 platform workers, as per the statistics from MOM in 2021. They make up three per cent of Singapore's resident workforce.

Platform welcome development

Grab, Deliveroo, and Foodpanda welcomed the declaration that platform workers aren't employees but called for an "evenly paced" implementation of the recommendations.

"Given the scale of the proposed changes, it is critical that implementation is evenly paced to prevent major disruptions to our ecosystem of merchants, rider partners and consumers," the platform companies said in a statement.

They also called on the government to ensure the implementation of the changes across all digital platforms in Singapore, including third-party logistics and taxi street-hail platforms. They stressed that the potential exclusion of other platforms could "lead to price and market distortion."

"Considering the complexities of business operations and economic pressures, further work is needed to ensure that the new standards and solutions are sustainable for all stakeholders. We will work with the Singapore government on the details of these recommendations," the platform companies said.

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