Opening Remarks at Dialogue with Platform Workers
Dr Tan See Leng, Minister for Manpower , HomeTeamNS Balestier
- Good afternoon everyone. Thank you for taking time to join us at this dialogue today.
- Many of you would have heard about the recommendations released by the Advisory Committee on Platform Workers last year in November. The Committee went through a year-long period of deliberation, hard work, a lot of debates, constructive discussions as well as engagements with Platform Workers, Platform Companies, and tripartite partners comprising the labour movement and Singapore National Employers Federation, before developing its recommendations. I want to thank the combined efforts of everybody. I also want to put on record, and thank Brother Chee Meng and Sister Wan Ling from the labour movement, where they provided significant insights, their ideas, as well as their concerns in how they want to strengthen the entire framework for all of you.
- We have arrived at this set of recommendations. Platform work is a complex and new area that has no established consensus or norms. All Platform Workers provide valuable services, and spend a disproportionate amount of time on the roads and face significant risks. In the last two and a half years during the pandemic, many of us were working from home during Circuit Breaker, and we could not go out. Many families could not have gone through without the support of our Platform Workers, who braved the elements – the weather, the rain – to always ensure our stomachs are full, we are able to access our goods and groceries. It is therefore important that we recognise all the contributions that were made by each and every one of you. Hence, all the more important that as we move forward, as we want to build, reinforce, renew our social compact, this is one big part that we want to see how we can assist. It is imperative, it is important, to make sure that all our Platform Workers are not left in a precarious situation, as the platform ecosystem continues to evolve and platform services become the norm. It is with this impetus that the Government has accepted the Committee’s recommendations, which will strengthen protections for all our Platform Workers.
- Understandably, many of you here will have questions, worries, concerns and apprehensions about what these recommendations mean for you and how they will be implemented. You could be concerned about the impact of mandatory CPF contributions on your take-home pay, or about being disadvantaged in job-matching. You could have questions about how work injury compensation would be implemented to account for unique features of platform work, such as multihoming – when you could be working for multiple platforms at the same time.
- Let me start off with CPF contributions. Today you should already be contributing up to 10.5% of your income to CPF depending on your income and age. All of this goes into your MediSave Account. As a doctor, I can tell you this is a key critical feature you must have because we all will need savings for medical needs. In fact, all employees contribute up to 20% of their income to CPF. Some of this MediSave that you have can also be used to pay for the healthcare needs of your loved ones. Employees also get an additional up to 17% contribution from their employers, of which a significant proportion of the contributions can be used for home financing.
- So what does the recommendation to align the CPF rates with employees mean for you?
- First, it means your total earnings, inclusive of the CPF contributions by Platform Companies, are expected to increase.
- Second, if you are servicing a housing loan, you can use the CPF contributions to your Ordinary Account instead of cash to pay for housing. You may then have more cash in hand compared to today for other expenses.
- Third, if you earn less than $500 per month from platform work or are above age 65, your share of CPF contributions will actually be the same or lower than today. Yet, you may still receive CPF contributions from the Platform Company.
- We recognise that some are concerned about a drop in take-home earnings if their CPF contribution rates are aligned with that of employees. We are just as concerned, and there are three things we are going to do to address this.
- First, if you are age 30 and above when we implement this, you can choose whether you want this alignment. This means you can opt in. This recognises that some of you may already have plans for your housing and retirement, and we do not want to disrupt that. So, you have a choice. But I strongly recommend that you do opt in if you are concerned about whether you have enough for housing and retirement.
- Second, the alignment will be phased in over 5 years. We will not require you to go from up to 10.5% to up to 20% contribution rate overnight. The phase-in would mean an average of up to 2.5%-point increases in your contribution rate for 5 years.
- Third, the Government will step forward to support you. We are studying how best to provide support to Platform Workers who require more assistance, to reduce the impact on your take-home pay during the transition period. We will announce more details when ready.
- Moving on to the provision of Work Injury Compensation. We have seen incidents of Platform Workers getting injured while on jobs. Going forward, mandatory Work Injury Compensation insurance to be provided by Platform Companies will give you better financial security if you are injured at work. For instance, the insurance will provide for medical expenses, income loss compensation for permanent incapacity or death, at the same scope and level as employees. To look into the implementation of the Work Injury Compensation regime for Platform Workers, the Ministry of Manpower will set up a Platform Workers Work Injury Compensation Implementation Network or PWIN to develop key operational policies for the Work Injury Compensation regime for Platform Workers. PWIN will comprise representatives from Platform Companies, Platform Workers, insurers and tripartite partners. This will allow perspectives, suggestions, feedback and insights from the various stakeholders in this ecosystem to be considered when we develop these processes, such as for more efficient claims processing and the reporting of work injuries.
- Finally, on representation. It is important that you are better able to negotiate for your interests as a group. There are already associations that you have formed to better represent your interests. What we will do is to introduce a legal framework to strengthen associations’ ability to represent your interests, just like how unions do so for employees. We have set up a Tripartite Workgroup on Representation for Platform Workers, which is discussing the details of a new representation framework for platform workers. The aim is to announce its recommendations later this year.
- We are cognisant that many of you have joined or continued in platform work for a whole variety of diverse reasons. We recognise that. Many would prefer the flexibility and autonomy; some of you do it to supplement your income from your main employment; and then there are others who do platform work full-time. Regardless of how long you decide to stay in platform work – for those of you who see this as a transition, who want to pivot into other sectors eventually, the Government will support your job search, and training and skills development.
- This set of recommendations is a step in a positive direction to protect all our Platform Workers, because you do good and essential work, and you are one of the pillars that helped us during COVID-19. We would like to understand any concerns – and I hope that you share with us your concerns – that you may have before we roll out the recommendations in the later part of 2024 at the earliest. Rest assured that we will take time to implement the recommendations in a phased manner, because we also want to make sure to cater to your needs and give you time to adjust.
- I look forward to a fruitful sharing, and hearing your ideas this afternoon. Thank you.