2023
Publisher: 
Asian Development Bank, ADB
Language:
English

Session 4A: Social Protection for Gig Work and other New Forms of Work

Gig workers in Asia and the Pacific are individuals who engage in short-term or project-based work arrangements that are facilitated by digital platforms or intermediaries. These workers are often referred to as "platform workers" or "digital gig workers." The rise of gig work and other new forms of work is an important issue for social protection in the Asia and the Pacific, as many of these workers may not have access to traditional forms of social protection, such as pensions, health insurance, and unemployment benefits. The conditions of these jobs mimic those of informal employment. The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated the challenges faced by gig workers, shedding light on the issue. Across the Asia-Pacific region, many countries implemented a wide range of social protection programs for gig workers to support them during the COVID-19 pandemic. These include initiatives for Grab drivers in Malaysia and food delivery workers in Thailand, encompassing various forms of assistance, such as monthly cash transfers, food coupons, and access to medical care. Additionally, in response to the pandemic’s impact on freelancers and gig workers, the Indonesian government launched the pre-employment card program, which provided training, health insurance, and financial assistance to these workers. In Malaysia, the government took steps to partially subsidize contributions to a work-injury scheme, benefitting employees in the gig economy. Across the Asia-Pacific region, many countries implemented a wide range of social protection programs for gig workers to support them during the COVID-19 pandemic. Given this background, this session’s objective was to discuss what constitutes the gig economy, what are its key issues, and how can social protection measures extend for gig workers, including expanding on the role of the government and the private sector.