KUALA LUMPUR, March 2 — The establishment of the Gig Workers Commission announced by the government today will ensure that workers in this sector receive protection and enjoy the same benefits as formal workers as defined in the labour laws of Malaysia.

Senior Lecturer at the Faculty of Management and Business, Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) Sabah, Dr Jain Yassin, said that with the existence of the commission, gig economy workers would be able to contribute to the Social Security Organisation (Socso) and receive social protection.

“Furthermore, it will address the issues faced by gig industry practitioners and workers, especially regarding a fair payment system so that eventually, perhaps, minimum wage protection can be introduced to them,” he told Bernama today.

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According to him, the lack of bodies or groups that have fought for the fate of gig economy workers over the years, especially on issues such as lack of social protection and fair wages, has caused gig work to be considered a temporary job, even though the demand for services such as Foodpanda and GrabFood is increasing.

In terms of the regulatory framework for the commission, Jain expected it to be similar to the Public Service Commission but more ‘free market’ oriented with some regulation.

“Free market means that wage rates may still be based on the demand-supply mechanism because we need to understand that industry players are from the private sector, which is profit-oriented. In this case, the government may provide tax incentives to enable employers to improve employee schemes,” he said.

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The Prime Minister, in his closing speech at the Economic Congress of Bumiputeras (KEB) in Putrajaya today, announced the establishment of the Gig Workers Commission to protect the rights of 1.12 million gig workers, prioritising social protection, contract disputes and career advancement for gig workers.

Meanwhile, Malaysian E-Hailing Drivers Association (MeHDA) president Daryl Chong expressed hope that the establishment of the commission would be able to deal with the issue of many e-hailing drivers and food delivery riders (p-hailing) who are unreasonably terminated by their respective operating companies.

“Without a fair trial, some of them are dismissed within 24 hours if the case reported by the customer to the company is deemed serious, while for lighter cases, they may be suspended for a day or two depending on the investigation, but usually, this investigation is one-sided.

“There is no way for them (workers) to defend themselves. Therefore, on this part, I believe the commission will be to assist because if they (companies) want to terminate the riders, they should follow the proper process which includes holding a domestic inquiry hearing before the person can be terminated,” he said. — Bernama