by LYDIA NATHAN / pic by RAZAK GHAZALI
GRAB Malaysia has seen only 10% of its driver-partners registering with the Social Security Organisation (Socso) despite increasing calls for gig workers to get more social protection.
A spokesperson for the e-hailing giant told The Malaysian Reserve (TMR) that the company is actively encouraging its partners to register with Socso, as only a tenth of its partners have so far signed up.
The company said it has been in talks with regulators and authorities on how to proceed next.
“We have been leveraging several channels of communications to encourage our partners to get on board with Socso, and at the same time, engaging Socso to look at ways at designing solutions that are tailored to gig workers’ needs,” the spokesperson said to TMR.
This comes after the Ministry of Human Resources announced it had plans to make it compulsory for all workers, including those self-employed and ones within the gig economy, to contribute to Socso.
Its Minister Datuk Seri M Saravanan said the current Self-Employment Social Security Act 2017 (Act 789) will need to be amended to include the new forms of employment.
Socso said only 7% of gig economy workers had registered with them between January and July this year.
It is estimated that the current gig economy workforce is about 26% of the total labour force or four million people.
The Covid-19 pandemic brought the nature of the gig economy into sharp focus, as most companies categorised partners as independent workers, and did not include benefits or entitlements.
“The gig economy created earning opportunities for those who needed them the most. In this challenging time, we believe that everyone has a part to play and to support one another.
“We hope to continue to play our part in protecting lives and livelihoods, where we have been taking small, yet important steps towards serving and protecting the livelihoods of our community,” the Grab spokesperson said.
Among the steps include GrabBenefits programme, which aims to help its partners save and grow through the platform, and provide a group personal accident insurance for all partners while on the road.
The programme also allows partners to access financial literacy modules, request assistance for monthly bills and necessities, as well as be able to access a portfolio of educational articles and tips.
Grab said industry players within the gig economy must continue to innovate to ensure their sustainability.
“The nature of self-employed or gig work demands and empowers individuals to take bigger ownership to plan and manage their finances — especially with the nature of varying income that comes with gig work.
“The solutions and products offered need to take into account how to help manage their cashflow and not restrict it, that is the foundation for helping our partners manage their welfare and financial needs,” the spokesperson said.
“We know there is a long road ahead for Malaysia, but as a homegrown company, we are ready to work together with our partners.
“For the hundreds of thousands of partners who earn their livelihood through Grab, our commitment is to empower them and continuously work hard to improve their welfare, while preserving their freedom and flexibility to work when and how much they want.”