12 Ways (Including CPF and Work Injury Compensation) That Platform Workers In Singapore Will Have Better Job Protection From 2024

Singapore delivery and taxi drivers CPF, WICA protection

report by the Advisory Committee of Platform Workers found that nearly a third of Self-Employed Persons (SEPs) are Platform Workers – comprising about 3% of Singapore resident workforce. While some SEPs benefit from the autonomy of providing their services and taking care of their own well-being, others may require more support.

As we can see in the chart below, taxi drivers, delivery workers and private-hire car drivers are among those most at-risk. Many of these workers are matched to their jobs via online platforms – hence, the term Platform Workers.

One other thing to note is that taxi drivers, delivery workers and private hire car drivers who do not receive jobs from platform companies will continue to be outside this framework for Platform Workers. 

Median gross monthly income for self-employed persons

On 23 November, the Government accepted all 12 recommendations by the Advisory Committee on Platform Workers to improve their job protection. This committee was created in September 2021 to look into three specific areas of concern for Platform Workers:

a) ensuring adequate financial protection in case of work injury; 

b) improving housing and retirement adequacy; and 

c) enhancing representation.

According to the report, these recommendations will be implemented in a progressive manner from the later part of 2024 at the earliest.

How Will Platform Workers’ Job Protection Improve?

a) Ensuring Adequate Financial Protection In Case Of Work Injury

#1 Platform Workers Should Not Be Classified As Employees

The greater flexibility that Platform Workers enjoy, compared to employees, is a key feature of their work.

This recommendation comes with certain implications. It means that Platform Workers will not get the same statutory protections and benefits that employees get under the Employment Act. These include paid annual leave, paid sick leave and overtime pay, among others.

Platform Companies will not receive government support that is provided to employers. This includes schemes such as the Jobs Credit Scheme and the Jobs Growth Incentive (JGI).

Read Also: Singapore Employment Act: 10 Statutory Requirements To Pay Employees

#2 Require Platform Companies That Exert A Significant Level Of Management Control Over Platform Workers To Provide Them With Certain Basic Protections 

Unlike other groups of SEPs, Platform Workers are subject to a significant level of control by platform companies. The report highlights certain elements of this, such as a) data-driven, algorithmic matching of demand and supply of services, b) effectively determining or setting the upper limits on price and remuneration, and c) controlling and directing the performance of work.

While some platform companies already provide certain protection and training for their Platform Workers, basic protection needs to be evenly provided across all platform companies.

#3 Require Platform Companies To Provide The Same Scope And Level Of Work Injury Compensation As Employees’ Entitlement Under The WICA. 

The risk of injury to a Platform Worker is similar to an employee doing similar work. As such, the same scope of coverage should apply via WICA– including a) medical expenses, b) compensation for income loss (when issued medical or hospitalisation leave) and c) lump sum compensation for permanent disability or death.

There will also be a key difference for Platform Workers who should be on “light duty” instead of their potentially more strenuous work. In such scenarios, employees can be called back into work on other activities, but Platform Workers will not.

Read Also: Work Injury Compensation Act (WICA): What Employers Need To Know

#4 Require Platform Company That The Platform Worker Was Working For At The Point Of Injury To Be Responsible For Compensation, Based On The Platform Worker’s Total Earnings From The Platform Sector In Which The Injury Was Sustained. 

Platform Workers can work for multiple platform companies. It is important to determine which platform is responsible for the compensation. Another consideration is that it is uncommon for Platform Workers to be working for more than one platform company at any one point.  

From an insurance coverage standpoint, the Platform Worker’s premiums will be proportionate to their earnings on the platform. This should reduce over-insuring via multiple platforms, and fair premiums paid by each platform.

#5 Determine Sector-Specific Definitions Of When A Platform Worker Is Considered “At Work”. 

The scope of what it means to be “at work” needs to be determined in each sector as Platform Workers do not have fixed working hours or locations.

#6 Retain The Strengths Of The Current WICA Regime, Including The Provision Of Work Injury Compensation Insurance Through The Existing Open And Competitive Insurance Market. 

It makes sense to use the existing WICA regime for Platform Workers, as there are standard policy terms approved by MOM, as well as established processes for reporting, claims admissibility, assessment standards and dispute resolution. 

b) Improving Housing And Retirement Adequacy

#7 Align CPF Contribution Rates Of Platform Companies And Platform Workers With That Of Employers And Employees Respectively; Required For Platform Workers Who Are Aged Below 30 In The First Year Of Implementation. 

Platform Workers should receive the same degree of CPF contributions compared to employees as they have similar needs and constraints.

While Platform Workers will need to make CPF contributions (and receive less in take-home pay), platform companies will also need to fork out the “employer” portion of CPF contributions.

Targeting those below 30 in the first year will make it available to those who most need it and may be best able to adapt to it. Younger individuals may also be more likely to require this support for their housing and retirement needs.

It also increases the burden of rising business cost on platform companies in a progressive manner.

#8 Allow Older Cohorts Of Platform Workers Who Are Aged 30 And Above In The First Year Of Implementation To Opt In To The Full CPF Contribution Regime.

While those under 30 are targeted in the first year, this scheme should not limit older Platform Workers who also want to be part of the scheme.

#9 Require Platform Companies To Collect Platform Workers’ CPF Contributions To Help Workers Make Timely Contributions. 

Just as companies deduct the employee’s CPF contributions before paying salaries, the idea is for the Government to develop a similar mechanism for platform companies for their Platform Workers.

#10 Phase in the increased CPF contributions over five years, unless major economic disruption warrants a longer timeline. To ease the impact, the Government may wish to consider providing support for Platform Workers and the form this should take. 

CPF contributions should be phased in. This allows platform companies to see business cost progressively rise. For Platform Workers, while they earn a higher overall pay packet, it will also see them taking home a smaller salary – and a phased approach can help in smoother transition.

c) Enhancing Representation For Platform Workers 

#11 Give Platform Workers The Right To Seek Formal Representation Through A New Representation Framework Designed For Platform Workers. 

Platform Workers should be allowed to organise and register themselves with the Ministry of Manpower as new representative bodies.

#12 Set Up A Tripartite Workgroup On Representation For Platform Workers (TWG) To Co-Create The New Representation Framework. 

It remains important that the key stakeholders – Platform Workers, the platform companies and the Government – to continue working together to strengthen the partnership.

The areas that Platform Workers will need representation in will include:

a) to represent Platform Workers collectively,

b) setting the scope of potential issues that can be negotiated with platform companies,

c) developing a dispute management framework to resolve disputes between negotiating parties.

Read Also: The Twitter Retrenchment: Why Labour Unions Are Still Relevant Today

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