Social security solution needed for gig workers

Freelancers lack a secure platform for them to showcase their portfolio to potential clients


THE gig economy’s growth rate, which has continued to accelerate as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, is deemed a temporary reprieve for the country’s unemployment woes, but the lack of social protection among gig workers makes them vulnerable with potentially no savings in the future.

Gigworks CEO and founder Glenn Tay said freelancers lack a secure platform for them to showcase their portfolio to potential clients.

“Furthermore, they are often unable to receive prompt payments after completing their work. These factors deter talented individuals from doing freelance work, in which they could earn more with their skillset.

“Gigworks was built to address these issues and make freelancing easier for all,” he told The Malaysian Reserve (TMR) via email.

Launched this year, Gigworks began its operation in Singapore and has since received encouraging responses by both local and regional users as the go-to platform for online professional service engagement.

With an extensive online catalogue of listings being posted daily, users can expect to gain more flexible access to buy and sell quality services at their fingertips.

According to Tay, demand for freelance work is high for technical roles such as software development, statistical analysis and big data applications.

Tay suggested more government grants should be offered to gig economy workers who rely on freelance work to pay their bills.

He said basic healthcare coverages should also be provided for those who are not covered under larger organisations’ insurance policies.

“This would ease the burden of freelancers and give them peace of mind as they go about their daily lives.

“Further government measures can also be taken for compulsory contributions to ensure proper coverage for self-employed or gig economy workers.”

He said more people, especially the younger generation, will opt to join the gig economy because it has become increasingly challenging to secure a permanent job.

Tay added that INTI International University & Colleges’ first-ever survey on the freelancing landscape in Malaysia found that 68% of the 300 respondents chose freelancing as their first choice of work despite the availability of full-time jobs.

“Freelancing is gaining traction rapidly and appealing to Malaysians as it allows them to decide on their own hours and keep 100% of the revenue earned from a gig.

“Other factors include traffic conditions to attend 9-to-5 jobs and a higher desire for flexible work hours,” he explained.

Tay feels the gig economy is emerging as a key employment sector as demand for related services and the shift towards digitalisation increases.

Freelancer Yuni Nuraini Roslan, who uses the Gigworks platform, said one feature she really likes about Gigworks is how it is not restricted to Malaysia only. With Gigworks, she has the chance to engage clients based abroad.

She is currently helping out with Malay audio transcription for a company as her main freelance job after quitting her fulltime job in 2014.

“This was until April 2020 when I felt the need to possess my own money that pushed me to look for other modes of income. But I also wanted a job that I could do from home,” she told TMR.

“As for myself, while I still have an ongoing freelance project, I divide my income mainly on savings to prepare for rainy days and other smaller proportions for self-development and tools to help in completing the project assigned by my clients.”