KUALA LUMPUR: The government will regulate the gig economy in the country to ensure the welfare of workers in the sector is protected, according to Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad (pix).
The prime minister noted that currently those employed under the gig economy do not enjoy the benefits and protections of other permanent workers, and they could be mistreated and abused by employers.
“The government is concerned about those employed in the gig economy. For the usual permanent workers, there are rules and regulations pertaining to their savings and pensions, including the Employees Provident Fund (EPF). But there are no such regulations in the gig economy.
“It the government’s responsibility to put in place provisions and regulations to ensure everyone is protected.
“We will come up with provisions where if employers break the rules, then action will be taken against them. At the moment, there’s no such rules and regulations,” he told the Dewan Rakyat, here today.
Mahathir was responding to several questions from MPs from both sides of the political divide on whether the government intends to regulate the gig economy sector and what measures are being taken to protect the employees.
The premier said among the initiatives taken by the government include the setting up of special committee comprising the Youth and Sports Ministry, Human Resources Ministry (MOHR) and Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry to draft the long-term solutions relating to gig economy.
“MOHR will also conduct a detailed study in terms of the legal definitions concerning the terms and regulations of employees, while the sector will also be given attention as a new source of economic growth,” he said.
Mahathir said the government is still conducting studies on the initiatives, adding that not all benefits and protections enjoyed by conventional workers would be enjoyed by those employed under the gig economy.
He said the government is facing constraints in protecting the welfare of the gig economy workers due to the unclear employment relationship between employers and employees.
Commenting further, Mahathir said the government has no plans to bar the existence of gig economy in the country due to the employment opportunities it provides to those without jobs and who were looking for additional income.
“It seems to have become a current trend, and the government found that gig economy has become a new source of economic growth and provides opportunities to the rakyat to generate income and improve their standard of living,” he said.
The issue was raised in the Dewan Rakyat in light of the controversy surrounding the new payment scheme of food delivery company Foodpanda, which saw its riders holding protests.