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APEC Adopts Guidelines on Social Protection for Digital Platform Workers

Drawing upon good practices, experiences, and innovations across various economies in the region, the APEC Guidelines on Providing Social Protection to Digital Platform Workers aim to address the social protection gap for platform workers.

by K. Vatsala Devi
apec adopts guidelines

The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) has published the Guidelines on Providing Social Protection to Digital Platform Workers, jointly drawn up by the Malaysia’s Social Security Organisation (PERKESO) and Khazanah Research Institute (KRI).

Based on an online workshop held from 24 to 26 August 2021, the guidelines address the social protection gap for digital platform workers. The workshop gathered policy makers, regulators and researchers in the field to discuss various policy implementation challenges as well as good practices related to providing social protection to digital platform workers.

Besides existing and related literature on the topic, the findings from the workshop were used to design the framework of the guidelines, outline the challenges faced by diverse economies and provide a set of recommendations for social protection of digital platform workers.

The Guidelines Adopted by APEC is a Big Win for Perkeso and KRI

The shift from traditional formal employment to employment in the platform economy has been spurred by the increasing number of digital platforms as well as the COVID- 19 pandemic and government measures in restricting movement, which resulted in many employees being out of work.

The growing number of digital platform workers necessitates the development of social protection instruments to cater for non-standard forms of employment.

PERKESO Chief Executive, Dato’ Sri Dr. Mohammed Azman Dato’ Aziz Mohammed said the guidelines published may support economies in identifying and strategising respective long-term plans to solve challenges faced in providing social protection to digital platform workers.

“From our experience, sound and robust research provides a strong foundation in implementing social protection initiatives that are inclusive, adequate and sustainable.”

“Going forward, APEC guidelines will be central to PERKESO’s protection for digital platform workers in our pursuit to ensure that no workers are left behind in social security coverage as Malaysia embraces the Future of Work,” he added.

The Government demonstrated its commitment to protect digital platform workers in the recently announced Budget 2022, where they announced provision of matching contribution of 80 percent to digital platform workers under the PERKESO’s Self- employed Social Security Scheme (SKSPS).

This initiative is expected to benefit 300,000 workers on digital platforms by easing their burden to pay PERKESO contribution, thus improving workers’ access to social protection against any employment injury.

Social protection provides a strong policy tool for economies to protect the individuals against life contingencies and risks of poverty. With the rise of digital platform technology, economies recognise the changing nature of employment and growing social protection coverage gap in the labour market. In fact, the economic and health threats posed by the recent COVID -19 pandemic demonstrated the need for social protection coverage for all workers

Drawing upon good practices, experiences, and innovations across various economies in the region, the APEC Guidelines on Providing Social Protection to Digital Platform Workers was prepared with the objective of raising the standards of social protection especially for digital platform workers around the world.

The guidelines serve as fundamental steps to systematically address the underlying issues and challenges that have emerged with the new wave of employment with digital platforms. But beyond these considerations, it is also hoped that the guidelines will precipitate deeper conversations surrounding the topic such as employment-based protection for platform workers, risk-based pricing for platform workers, protection for informal employment and innovation in social protection.

The Role of APEC

APEC is an inter-governmental forum comprising 21 member economies in the Pacific rim promoting free trade in the Asia Pacific region. It was established in 1989 in response to the growing interdependence of Asia-Pacific economies and the advent of regional trade blocs in other parts of the world. APEC is recognized as one of the highest-level multilateral blocs and oldest forums in the Asia-Pacific region and exerts a significant global influence.

The complete document is now available for download here.

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