Singapore working on better protections for gig workers

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The committee, which was announced by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the National Day Rally last month, aims to address three key issues for gig workers: retirement and housing adequacy, adequate financial protection in case of work injury, and narrowing the gap in bargaining power between the workers and the platforms they work for.

The committee has 15 members, consisting of representatives from the government, industry, the labour movement and academia.

Many gig economy workers are on the road often, ferrying passengers or cargo, exposing them to greater risk of accidents and injury. Worldwide, many gig economy companies have received criticism for risky working conditions and lack of protection for workers, who are often treated as independent contractors and not as employees.

Several platforms have provided benefits and protection, in the form of sponsoring skills training courses and providing insurance.

Figures from the Ministry of Manpower stated that there were 228,200 Singapore residents engaged in own-account work in 2020, up from around 211,000 in 2019.

Danny Quah, vice chairman of the committee and dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, said that the number of gig economy workers in Singapore is likely to continue growing, due to technological developments and the pressures exerted by the COVID-19 pandemic on the job market.

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