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Issue of CPF contributions raised by most platform workers in public consultation paper: Koh Poh Koon

Issue of CPF contributions raised by most platform workers in public consultation paper: Koh Poh Koon
File Photo of delivery workers. (Photo: TODAY/Raj Nadarajan)

SINGAPORE: The issue of mandatory Central Provident Fund (CPF) contributions was raised by most platform workers surveyed in public consultation paper, said Senior Minister of State for Manpower Koh Poh Koon on Tuesday (Apr 5).

Speaking in Parliament, Dr Koh said that the Advisory Committee on Platform Workers has actively engaged stakeholders through dialogues as well as a public consultation paper.

To date, it has reached out to more than 20,000 platform workers and received about 1,200 submissions from them, he added.

“More than half of these submissions touched on CPF contributions, and of which, 55 per cent indicated support for the idea of mandatory CPF contributions to platform workers. Housing was the most commonly cited reason for wanting CPF contributions, followed by retirement,” said Dr Koh.

“This is not surprising, as platform workers today only make CPF contributions to their Medisave Accounts for their healthcare needs. In the coming months, we will continue with our engagement efforts, and encourage all stakeholders, including platform workers, to share their views.”

The committee was convened in September last year to look into three key areas of concern for platform workers - enhancing housing and retirement adequacy, providing financial protection in the event of work injury and strengthening representation.

Dr Koh pointed out that platform workers today already make mandatory CPF contributions out of their own earnings, although at a lower level of contribution compared to an employee. 

“The committee is mindful that if mandatory CPF contribution for platform workers is introduced, platform companies will have to start making contributions. While this will increase their business costs, it is no worse off than any other company employing workers in a similar sector, such as in logistics and transport,” he said.

“Besides, platform companies already contribute CPF for their management executives and administrative staff today ... At the same time, the committee is also aware that some platform workers are concerned about the impact on their take-home earnings. This somehow also suggests that platform workers are not as well-paid as some recent surveys have tried to portray.”

OTHER SURVEYS ALSO PUBLISHED

Dr Koh noted that the committee is also aware that other surveys on platform work were published recently, some of which were commissioned by the platform companies. 

“These surveys vary in methodology and some have much smaller number of respondents. Some of these surveys also did not capture the management controls and challenges that the platform workers face,” he said.

“While the surveys differ in their emphasis and findings, the one consistent feedback they note is that platform workers do experience greater uncertainty, and would appreciate some aspects of what employees enjoy, such as the benefit of CPF contributions and work injury compensation.”

Responding to questions on the profile and longer-term career prospects of platform workers, Dr Koh said that last year, the majority of those who depended on platform work as their main job were older residents aged 50 and over.

Delivery workers tended to be slightly younger, with the majority aged below 40, he added.

“This is not surprising, as riders have to maintain a certain level of physical fitness and toil for many hours a day covering long distances in order to keep their earning levels high … The majority, or around 80 per cent of those whose main job is a platform worker view it as their preferred job,” Dr Koh said.

He also noted that in 2021, 8 per cent of those who depended on platform work as their main job switched to work primarily as an employee – a slight increase from the 5 to 6 per cent in recent years.

"The committee’s work is still ongoing. As it continues to consult widely and facilitate deeper discussions, we will take in the feedback from platform workers and platform companies," Dr Koh.

"The committee aims to provide practicable and sustainable recommendations, and is considering an appropriate phase-in period to allow the industry to adjust."

Source: CNA/mt(rw)

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