The committee’s report noted that various surveys and public engagements indicated that platform users are “generally willing to pay slightly more” for platform services to enhance protections for platform workers. On their part, platform companies such as Grab and Gojek have indicated support for the recommendations, while expressing concerns over costs and the need for the measures to be applied fairly to all industry players that tap on gig workers.
IMPORTANT STEP TOWARDS EQUITABLE, INCLUSIVE SINGAPORE
The medium-term demand for platform services, such as ride-hailing and delivery, is not in doubt, given trends such as online shopping and the ageing population. Efforts to regularise platform work and extend greater protection are therefore important for a growing segment of the workforce.
Otherwise, the precarity of these jobs would lower the overall standard of labour protection in Singapore and subject a sizeable group of workers to financial risk, with the state and society ultimately having to pick up the tab.
It is better for the costs of basic protection to be internalised and shared equitably among platform companies, workers and consumers, with the Government providing transitional support. This is a formula that has worked in the introduction of progressive wages for lower-wage workers.
Enhancing protection for gig workers is an integral part of Singapore’s move towards a more equitable and inclusive society, where every worker is valued and there is dignity in every job.
Terence Ho is Associate Professor in Practice at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy. He is the author of Refreshing the Singapore System: Recalibrating Socio-Economic Policy for the 21st Century (World Scientific, 2021).