KUALA LUMPUR: The government has been urged to expedite the creation of a new law to protect gig economy workers in the country.
Campaign to Protect the Rights of E-Hailing Drivers spokesman Ng Kian Nam said as a new source of economic growth, gig economy workers deserved equal treatment, just like full-time employees.
“We need a new law to be put in place urgently so that these gig economy workers could be better protected and their welfare are being taken care of,” he told a press conference today.
Ng said such protection was important to ensure these workers were fairly treated.
“Based on our experience, e-hailing operators (for example) rely on complaints lodged by the passengers. (When this happens) drivers were then banned without having a platform to be heard or investigation being conducted, which is unfair to them.
“Hence, we hope the government can expedite the process."
On Oct 22, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad told the Dewan Rakyat that the new laws were being considered to regulate the growing gig economy and its workers.
He said those who were currently employed in the gig economy were not able to enjoy benefits such as those in permanent positions and were at risk of being mistreated by their employers.
MCA spokesperson Chan Quin Er said a country such as the United Kingdom has already recognised this category of gig employees.
“Therefore, it is high time for the government to enact laws or provisions to cover gig employees in the country.”
She said in the past, people turned to part-time jobs as a source of supplementary income or to earn extra pocket money.
“However, these days, gig work has become necessary to eke a livelihood and the numbers of gig workers look set to rise.
“The entire industry is shifting. Now we don’t need to have a physical shop to run the business as everything can be done online and the entire industry is moving to on-demand from full-time employment to on-demand kind of services and employment.
“(And) considering the amount of time they provided for the services, we urge the government to look into this.”
Meanwhile, on a case of a single mother who was allegedly removed without valid reasons, Ng said the e-hailing operator has been given two weeks by the Industrial Relations (IR) Department to look at her appeals for reinstatement.
“This morning, the IR Department has called their representatives for conciliation meeting with the affected driver and given them two weeks (until Feb 4) to weigh on her appeals for reinstatement.”
The driver, who only wanted to be known as Loh, was reportedly blocked from the e-hailing platform following a complaint against her by a passenger.
In the Nov 4 incident, Loh took up a request to pick up a passenger from Senai Airport in Johor, only to discover that there were seven of them with several big luggage bags.
It was reported that the passenger had also called for another vehicle to accommodate the family.
Loh, who was also present at today’s press conference, then told the family that she could only take three passengers with their three luggage bags, but they were upset as they wanted another family member to get into her car too.
The other driver was reportedly told the fourth passenger to hop onto Loh’s car, but she refused to do so.