Almost 4% of Food Delivery Riders in S’pore Earn Over $5,000 Monthly

Guess how much a food delivery rider earns.

Some of them earn over S$5,000 a month.

You read that right – their salary could be higher than some of our starting salaries.

Almost 4% earn over S$5,000 a month

Almost 4 per cent of food delivery riders make above S$5,000 a month.

There’s a caveat however – those who earn more are likelier to get into accidents that need medical attention, according to a report released on Friday (4 Nov).

Of the 1,002 platform delivery riders surveyed by the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS) in July and August this year, most delivery riders rake in earnings within the range of S$1,000 and S$1,999.

In fact, 33.9 per cent of riders surveyed earn within that range.

The survey respondents are between 21 and 65 years and are mostly men.

If you’re interested, the report is titled “Current realities, social protection and future needs of platform food delivery workers in Singapore”.

The report also looks at the hours food delivery riders spend in their job, riders’ attitudes towards contributing to Central Provident Fund (CPF) and the social protection they require, among other topics.

Generally satisfied, but improvement is needed

Speaking about the report’s findings, IPS Social Lab Principal Research Fellow and Head Mathew Mathews said that while riders were generally satisfied with their work, some areas needed improvement.

As all things should.

“On the undercurrent if you look a a little deeper, there are many areas that you really would need to consider when improvement is much more important, especially areas of social protection, things which would help to safeguard workers welfare, especially in the longer-term horizon,” Dr Mathews said.

The report comes just in time ahead of the Advisory Committee on Platform Workers’ findings on how to strengthen protection for self-employed persons working for online platforms.

What exactly is this Advisory Committee? Well, the name’s pretty self explanatory.

The committee, formed last year, will look into how to improve retirement and housing adequacy, ensure sufficient financial protection in case of work injury as well as how to close the gap in bargaining power for platform workers.

And the “platform workers” in question aren’t just our food delivery riders – they include private hire car drivers, delivery riders and even taxi drivers as well.

The committee will engage platforms as well as their workers, and is expected to complete its work this year.

Sustainability of salaries

According to IPS, 23.6 per cent of riders earn less than S$1,000 a month from food delivery work, 33.9 per cent earn between S$1,000 and S$1,999, 13 per cent earn between S$2,000 and S$2,999, and 29.5 per cent earn S$3,000 and above.

Only 3.2 per cent of riders earn more than S$5,000 a month.

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Riders earning less than S$5,000 for their highest monthly earning typically worked between 8 to 12 hours.

Majority of riders earning S$5,000 and above worked 10 to 12 hours.

And here we are complaining about our nine to fives.

Currently, platforms incentivise riders to work at peak hours and locations where there is an expected demand. Riders keeping these in mind may be able to better maximise their hours-to-income payoff, said the study.

The biggest concern however, was the sustainability of income given the increasing number of riders in the industry.

Around 68 per cent of respondents feared being unable to earn enough with the increased competition.

More than half of respondents were also worried about the rising cost of living and feared that they would be unable to earn enough due to platform companies reducing financial incentives.

Safety Concerns

The report also noted that riders earning more from food delivery work worked longer hours and were likelier to get into at least one accident.

Not just any accident – but accidents requiring medical attention.

Among those who rode for more hours, 38 per cent of them had at least one accident requiring medical attention.

“So this again becomes very clear that you need some kind of protection,” Dr Mathews said. He noted that riders working long hours will naturally lose concentration or get more tired, putting them at higher susceptibility to accidents.

The proportion of riders who had an accident requiring medical attention increased steadily among riders who earned higher incomes.

One motorcyclist food delivery rider managed to earn a five-figure monthly salary occasionally from food delivery. However, it wasn’t a smooth journey for him as well.

He had to work 20 days straight from 12 to 16 hours daily, and fell sick afterwards. His last accident also ended with him in a coma for a few days in the hospital.

Good things don’t come easy at all.

CPF Contributions

Food delivery riders are not mandated to contribute to CPF due to their self-employed status.

Among those who earn from only food delivery work, 41.9 per cent do not voluntarily contribute to CPF.

Riders were divided on the issue of CPF contributions, with more than half worried about having much less take-home income with CPF deductions.

Some suggested making CPF contributions a choice for the rider.

Around 68.4 per cent of riders indicated wanting CPF to buy a house or pay mortgage, while 48.7 per cent felt that CPF was an easier way to save for retirement.

Earnings vs Protection

When asked to choose between protection from platform companies and payments, a larger proportion chose payments.

This means that to majority of respondents, higher payments took priority over protection such as insurance coverage and medical benefits.

More than a third of respondents surveyed weren’t even aware of the benefits provided by platform companies.

Earlier this year, another study conducted by IPS found that while food delivery and private-hire vehicle platforms allow low-income persons to earn quickly, they risk getting stuck in platform work and trapped in poverty.

In the current study, only 18.5% of respondents had attended job training which would help them towards another job since becoming a food delivery rider.

Some didn’t even have time to attend training as they prioritised their earnings instead.

The IPS has since provided the report to relevant stakeholders and hopes that the advisory committee takes the findings into account.

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