The existing WICA covers all local and foreign employees under an employment or apprenticeship contract, regardless of their salary, age or nationality. However, it does not cover independent contractors, freelancers, domestic workers or uniformed personnel.
Local media recently reported that five delivery platform workers have died in traffic accidents in the past year and a half. Platform workers are workers who depend on online platforms for their income, such as taxi drivers, private car drivers and delivery people. They are considered self-employed and are not protected by WICA or employment law.
An advisory committee is looking into the matter and plans to make recommendations this year. The committee proposes that as long as a worker provides the same service, it should make no difference whether they are a platform delivery person or a worker engaged in delivery work as an employee.
According to Minister of State for Manpower Koh Poh Koon, the classification of workers depends on the nature of the contract and the arrangement between the company and the worker. Certain factors are taken into consideration to determine whether a person is an employee or an independent contractor. These factors include whether the company provides the workplace and equipment and whether the worker must meet certain key performance indicators.
In the case of workers on food and merchandise delivery platforms, Koh argued that these workers actually look more like employees, given the management controls exercised by the platforms and their algorithms.
Mayumi Soh of Pinsent Masons MPillay, the Singapore lawyers’ joint venture between MPillay and Pinsent Masons, said: ‘WICA’s expansion to include ’employee-like’ gig workers will likely raise legal issues that could confuse further the boundaries between employees and the self-employed. service provider. Employers should take note of developments in this area.
Under WICA, as long as the statutory criteria are met, the minimum compensation for accidental death of an employee is S$76,000 and can be as high as S$225,000, depending on age and employee’s monthly salary. Compensation for permanent disability ranges from S$97,000 to S$289,000, depending on the degree of disability.