SINGAPORE, Dec 6 — From January 15 next year, eligible platform workers who get injured at work can apply for S$250 (RM870) of NTUC FairPrice vouchers to help them while they await more aid from other relief schemes, said the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) today.

The new NTUC Care Fund (Work Injury Relief) scheme will be available to taxi drivers, private hire drivers and delivery riders who are members of NTUC-affiliated organisations, such as the National Delivery Champions Association (NDCA), National Private Hire Vehicles Association (NPHVA) and National Taxi Association (NTA).

This scheme will provide “crucial bridging relief” for these workers as there is currently no financial assistance schemes targeted at this group, said the labour movement in a media release.

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Delivery riders, private hire drivers and taxi drivers are faced with inherent risks of being on the road for extended periods, which can be aggravated by working in “less-than-ideal conditions” such as during heavy rain, said NTUC.

“If they sustain injury while working, these self-employed members must wait nearly two weeks before he or she can expect to receive financial help from government or community bodies in view of the processing time.”

NTUC Secretary-General Ng Chee Meng added: “When freelance point-to-point and delivery workers come into hardship at work, their immediate concern is usually whether they are able to continue earning. For those who sustain injuries and find it difficult or unable to continue working, this becomes even more worrying.”

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When accidents occur, these workers only have their savings to rely on, as they are not covered under the Workplace Injury Compensation Act, said NTUC.

Many may not have personal accident insurance coverage or not have sufficiently comprehensive coverage given the extent of possible injuries sustained at work, while some continue to pay for work-related liabilities such as vehicle rental fees while being unable to work, the statement added.

How it works

The scheme provides injured workers with “immediate relief” while they await the outcomes of applications for other assistance programmes or insurance claims, said NTUC’s statement.

For the first tranche of support, each of the affiliated platform worker associations have contributed S$20,000, which will be matched one-to-one by the NTUC-U Care Fund.

In total, S$120,000 has been committed so far, which can help around 480 workers tide over their injuries.

The scheme will also be reviewed in mid-2024 to ensure that injured workers will continue to be supported via a second tranche, said NTUC.

To qualify for the vouchers, the injured worker has to be prescribed medical or hospitalisation leave for a continuous period of five or more days.

He or she will then have to submit an application within two weeks from the date medical or hospitalisation leave is issued, or within two weeks after they are discharged from the hospital.

The issue date of medical or hospitalisation leave must not be over two weeks from the date of injury.

They will also have to submit proof of work and earnings for the period that the accident occurred, such as a screenshot of the platform app that shows the member’s name and activity status on the date of the accident.

Only one application can be submitted for the same accident, and members are limited to a maximum of two unique approved applications in a year. They must have maintained a minimum of three months continuous paid membership at the point of application.

Members can apply for the scheme via their respective associations who will assess the applications and disburse vouchers to members or their designated family member within 48 to 72 hours of successful application.

It costs S$117 per year to be a member. — TODAY