Part of the Food Policy Snapshot Series
Policy name: Strengthening Protections for Platform Workers
Overview: Gig workers in Singapore, including food delivery drivers, will receive more protections and benefits but will not be considered employees.
Population: 79,000 gig workers (2020)
Food policy category: Food services
Program goals: To provide more rights and enhance the quality of life for food delivery workers.
How it works: The worker protections apply to platform or gig workers, meaning those who use online platforms or apps to connect them to delivery or point-to-point transportation service jobs, but who are not employees of the companies running the online platforms. Under the new protections, these workers will still not be considered employees, but they will receive the following benefits not previously granted to them:
- Gig workers will receive financial compensation for work injury at the same level as regular employees under the Work Injury Compensation Act (WICA), including the coverage of medical leave wages, medical expenses, and a lump-sum compensation for permanent disability or death.
- Workers and platform companies will have to make contributions to the national pension savings plan, Central Provident Fund (CPF) at the same rate as all other Singaporean employees and employers, based on age. The contributions will be phased in over five years, unless a longer timeline is needed due to a major economic disruption.
- Workers will have the right to seek formal representation for collective bargaining purposes.
Progress to date: Singapore’s Minister for Manpower set up the Advisory Committee on Platform Workers in September 2021, and the committee first met in November 2021 to begin discussing how to strengthen gig worker protections. They published their recommendations on November 17, 2022, and the government accepted them on November 23.
Why it is important: Food delivery workers and ride-hailing service drivers in Singapore are considered to be self-employed and do not receive any of the benefits that employees do. Many food delivery workers use bicycles for transportation and are at high risk of injury on the job due to harsh weather conditions, fatigue from working long hours, and rushing to complete orders, while competing with larger and faster vehicles for space on the roads. A straw poll conducted in October 2022 revealed that 60 percent of food delivery workers have been injured on the job. In the 18 months from January 2021 to July 2022, five food delivery riders died on the job.
People have come to rely on the convenience of food delivery services, so it is important to safeguard and show appreciation for the delivery workers who provide long hours of labor under often dangerous conditions.
Program/Policy initiated: The new protections will gradually begin going into effect at the end of 2024 or later.
Point of contact: N/A
Similar practices: In September 2021, New York City passed legislation to provide additional protections to food delivery workers, including allowing drivers to determine maximum distances per trip, requiring drivers to be paid at least once per week, and granting drivers permission to use restrooms at establishments where they are picking up food.
Evaluation: Evaluation has not yet been conducted. The new protections have been received well by tech platforms such as Gojek and Grab, although they have expressed concerns about the cost differential resulting from CPF contributions.
- In a ‘’Gig” Economy, Workers Taking on More Risk (Harvard)
- Job Quality, Fair Work and Gig Work: The Lived Experience of Gig Workers (The International Journal of Human Resource Management)
- Managing Risk As A Gig Worker During Covid (Forbes)
- Singapore’s Gig Workers Appeal to Government for More Protection (Bloomberg)
- Singapore’s Gig Workers to Get Better Job Protections From 2024, Including in CPF and Injury Compensation (Channel News Asia)
- Singapore’s Gig Workers to Get Work Injury, Pension Coverage (Reuters)
- The Big Read: Faced with Fatigue and Rush to Meet Orders, Food Delivery Riders Grapple Daily with Road Safety Risks (Channel News Asia)
- First Meeting of the Advisory Committee on Platform Workers (Ministry of Manpower)
- Gig Workers Will Get Workplace Injury Compensation Like Regular Employees, Right to Collectively Bargain for Wages and Benefits (Today Online)
- Government Accepts Recommendations by the Advisory Committee on Platform Workers to Strengthen Protections for Platform Workers (Ministry of Manpower)
- Grab, Gojek are ‘Supportive’ of Singapore’s Move to Expand Job Protection for Gig Workers (CNBC)
- How Much CPF Contributions to Pay (Central Provident Fund Board)
- New York City Passes Bills Offering Protections to Food Delivery Workers (CNBC)
- Oral Answer by Senior Minister for State Dr Koh Poh Koon to PQ on Work-Related Accidents Among Delivery Platform Workers (Ministry of Manpower)
- Poll Showing 6 in 10 Food Delivery Workers Were Injured at Work Warrants ‘Better Look’ at Medical Claims: Koh Poh Koon (Today Online)
- Public Consultation on Strengthening Protections for Platform Workers (Ministry of Manpower)
- Singapore Gig Workers to Get More Benefits, Won’t Be Employees (Bloomberg)