A New Tripartite Workgroup to Be Formed to Protect the Interest of Freelancers in Singapore

March 9, 20178:46 am752 views

With the rising gig economy in Singapore, a tripartite workgroup will be formed to protect the interest of freelancers and support them, which was announced by Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say in Parliament on March 6, at the Ministry’s Committee of supply debate.

A survey by MOM showed freelancers were most concerned about the lack of income security arising from work injuries, attending training or skill upgrading courses, as well as the ability to seek sufficient clients and collect timely payments.

In response to which Mr. Lim said the Government is taking these concerns seriously and is planning a tripartite group to study these issues and understand the concerns of freelancers, to come up with workable solutions for the well-being of freelance workforce in future economy, Channel News Asia reports.

According to the labour force survey, the overall percentage of primary freelancers  those who do freelancing as their main job in Singapore has remained stable within the range of 8 per cent to 10 per cent in the past 10 years.

Mr Lim said there were about 167,000 primary freelancers in 2016 and with the addition of secondary freelancers – those that freelance part-time alongside other jobs – the number adds up to about 200,000. Secondary freelancers include students, housewives or retirees who take on side jobs for additional income.

Most of the freelancers remain in traditional industries such as taxi driving and real estate, while those who participate in gig economy are a minority. Among the group of gig freelancers, about 10,500 of them work for private-hire car services such as Uber and Grab, whose emergence has transformed how services are delivered in the traditional sector.

See: MPs Suggest Protection for Freelancers in a Rising Gig Economy

Another 10,000 gig freelancers’ work in the professional services, creative services, media and communications as well as delivery services. However, the group that the Government is most concerned about is the estimated 32,700 people who are doing primary freelancing not by choice.

“Under the Adapt and Grow (scheme), we hope to reach out to as many of them as possible and help them to move into full-time employment,” Mr Lim told Parliament.

With the rise of online platforms, apps and the gig economy will help businesses serve customers more flexibly by matching them with “on-demand” workers, but also enable individuals to market their skills and earn income on the side. “There is potential upside; there is potential downside too. So our challenge is to maximise the upside and minimise the downside,” Mr Lim added.

This first survey will be good starting point for Singapore to gain deeper insights into the freelancer landscape in the region, while monitoring the development together with its tripartite partners to find practical solutions that will address the problems of freelancers.

Talent attraction and development are key success factors for creative and knowledge-based sectors like InfoComm and Media. IMDA’s Talent Assistance scheme has groomed media professionals and helped deepen their capabilities.

 Also read: NTUC Speaks Up in Favour of Freelancers in Singapore

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