Law to protect freelance workers

KUALA LUMPUR: The government is studying the formulation of legislation to prevent employers from oppressing workers in the gig economy and to look after the welfare of workers in the sector, said Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

The Prime Minister explained that at the moment, the country does not have any guidelines or regulations to enable actions to be taken against employers found mistreating workers in the gig economy.

“Foodpanda is among the first to introduce the gig economy in Malaysia. When they introduced the system here, we were not familiar. As a result, we do not have any regulations or laws initially.

“Maybe some employers are abusing them. Currently there are no regulations or laws,” he said during the Ministers’ Question Time at Dewan Rakyat here yesterday.

The gig economy is an economic activity conducted by individuals without an employer by providing their services to other people on a full-time or part-time basis.

He was replying to a supplementary question by Datuk Dr Noor Azmi Ghazali (PH-Bagan Serai) who wanted to know whether the government would issue guidelines to those involved in the gig economy apart from ensuring the group have valid driving license and road tax.

Commenting further, he said the government will also set up a special committee comprising three ministries to formulate long-term solutions on various issues on the gig economy in the country.

According to the prime minister, the ministries involved are the Youth and Sports Ministry, Human Resource Ministry and the Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry.

“The Human Resource Ministry will be conducting an in-depth study of the legal definitions of employment terms and conditions in gig economy industries in line with Industy 4.0 (IR4.0),” he said.

Dr Mahathir added that the committee also has the role of focusing on the gig economy as a new, sustainable and inclusive source of economic growth when the drafting of the 12th Malaysia Plan (12MP) for 2021-2025.

He was replying to the original question by Fahmi Fadzil (PH-Lembah Pantai) on whether the government intends to regulate the gig economy especially on the payment scheme of Foodpanda to protect the fate and welfare of gig economy workers.

Dr Mahathir pointed out that the gig economy could be a new economic growth source as well as providing opportunities for the people to improve their income and standard of living.

To a supplementary question by Datuk Ahmad Maslan (BN-Pontian) who wanted to know the view of the government on workers in the gig economy, Dr Mahathir said the gig economy gives the people in the country, especially those who are unemployed, the opportunity to earn an honest living.

“They work for themselves but unlike other employment, they do not enjoy several protection. We cannot stop the system as the gig economy could improve the income of the people involved,” said Dr Mahathir. – Bernama