Socso CEO: Gig economy operators’ reluctance makes it hard to improve social security for workers
KUALA LUMPUR,. The unwillingness of gig economy operators such as e-hailing and p-hailing platforms to cooperate makes it difficult for the government to improve the social security protection system for workers in the industry.
Social Security Organisation (Socso) chief executive officer Datuk Seri Dr Mohammed Azman Aziz Mohammed said he himself had tried several times to arrange for a meeting with the management of the platform providers to discuss the issue, but to no avail.
“The collaboration is necessary for Sosco to set up a system for contributions to the Self-Employment Social Security Scheme (SPS) based on the number of hours worked instead of a lump sum.
“…I think it will be more efficient if the contribution is made based on the number of working hours because from there, we can determine the total amount of contribution that should be paid.
“For the time being, we have to put gig economy workers in categories 1, 2, and 3 (of the SPS) because we can’t get the cooperation of the (e-hailing) platform management…the reality is, whether or not these gig workers’ welfare is taken care of, it’s not their (operators) business,” he said at the National Forum: Gig Industry Career Framework today.
According to Dr Mohammed Azman, based on the statistics, there are approximately 600,000 e-hailing and p-hailing workers in the country, but only about 230,000 have contributed to Socso.
Meanwhile, Associate Prof Shamzaeffa Samsudin of Universiti Utara Malaysia’s Economics and Financial Policy Institute said a study found that 60 per cent of gig economy workers have a low level of financial resilience.
She said this was because there were still many gig workers who did not contribute to any social security scheme, putting them at risk of financial difficulties in the event of health problems or accidents.
“When we asked them if they would be willing (to contribute), the majority expressed a willingness to do so. But the findings show that they are only willing to pay up to RM50 a month,” she said.
The forum, which lasted for almost three hours, also discussed how to improve the welfare of gig economy workers.
Also voicing his opinion was Malaysian P-Hailing Association chief activist Zulhelmi Mansor, who suggested that the government guarantee that the SPS contribution subsidy provided by Socso will continue for at least the next five years.
He also suggested that the platform providers make it mandatory for gig workers to have an active contribution to the scheme prior to being hired.
“Socso has already provided a protection scheme, but the contributions are still low. Therefore, the company (plaftorm providers) should take responsibility, if a gig worker fails to make a contribution, deactivating them before allowing them to continue working,” he said.
Malaysian e-Hailing Alliance chief activist Jose Rizal said gig workers need to be given permission to unionise and hopes that any initiative involving the group should not be limited to p-hailing and e-hailing services but encompass the entire informal service sector.