Insurance association's proposal entails higher premiums for platform firms, lower work injury compensation: Koh Poh Koon
SINGAPORE — An alternative proposal by the General Insurance Association of Singapore for insuring gig workers is "not viable" because it would either lead to higher premiums for platform companies or lower work injury compensation for such workers, Dr Koh Poh Koon said.
- To enhance protection for platform workers including delivery riders, platform companies would soon need to provide work injury compensation to them on the same level as employees under a law
- The General Insurance Association of Singapore proposed an alternative that it said can be efficiently achieved using existing insurance solutions
- Dr Koh Poh Koon, Senior Minister of State for Manpower, said this alternative was not viable and would lead to higher cost for companies and lower protections for workers
SINGAPORE — An alternative proposal by the General Insurance Association of Singapore (GIA) for insuring gig workers is "not viable" because it would either lead to higher premiums for platform companies or lower work injury compensation for such workers, Dr Koh Poh Koon said.
The Senior Minister of State for Manpower said in Parliament on Tuesday (Nov 29): “If it was so viable, why didn’t the insurance and platform companies suggest this earlier when there were workers who were injured or suffered death while on the job?”
He was responding to a supplementary question by Mr Liang Eng Hwa, Member of Parliament for Bukit Panjang on the Government's response to the proposal by the association, which represents some 40 insurance firms here.
Dr Koh’s comments came a week after the Government accepted several recommendations by the advisory committee on platform workers.
These requirements will apply to platform companies such as food-delivery and ride-hail firms. Taxi companies working on a street-hail model, however, will be exempt.
These recommendations include requiring platform companies to provide the same scope and level of compensation to gig workers as employees’ under the existing Work Injury Compensation Act.
For example, if a gig worker works for three food delivery companies and is injured while completing a delivery, the company with whom the worker was doing that delivery for, will have to pay for the worker's total income loss across all three firms.
In a statement after the recommendations were announced, Mr Ho Kai Wen, chief executive officer of GIA, proposed an alternative that he said can be efficiently achieved through existing solutions.
Instead of the Work Injury Compensation Act, he suggested that gig or platform workers be given prolonged medical leave insurance and group personal accident insurance.
If platform workers were to tap their Medishield Life under the Central Provident Fund (CPF) as well, the proposal — taken in its entirety — will ensure workers are protected for medical expenses, medical leave wages, permanent incapacity and death, Mr Ho said.
Dr Koh pointed out that since employees are covered for up to S$45,000 medical expenses for work injuries, there is no reason for platform workers to have to rely on Medishield Life, which is paid for using their CPF monies or out-of-pocket cash.
The advisory committee’s position is that platform workers should receive the same level of coverage for work injury compensation as employees, he said.
“GIA’s suggestion is essentially asking platform workers to pay for their own medical expenses,” Dr Koh added.
He added that GIA’s insurance coverage proposal for gig workers will lead to higher insurance premiums for platform companies given that the scope of coverage for their proposed insurance policy is "much wider on a 24/7 basis".
This would raise the business cost for companies, especially since they would have to purchase insurance coverage even for workers who do only an hour of work a day.
Dr Koh said that GIA’s proposal was contrary to what insurers had advised the advisory committee before the recommendations were published.
“I will suggest that GIA members work closely with platform companies to offer financial protection and compensation for these workers at the level of the Work Injury Compensation Act as soon as possible by the first quarter of next year," he added.