Gig economy a necessity rather than a convenience in the pandemic era

AT a time when the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the job landscape, gig employment has become a pressing necessity rather than a convenience, according to Qwork CEO and co-founder Muna Munirah Wan Nordin.

QWork is a Malaysian-based staffing and recruiting platform that empowers talents and businesses to sustainably navigate the gig economy.

With presences in Malaysia and Indonesia (with plans to expand to Singapore in 2022), it has served more than 50 companies across various industries and boasts a pool of more than 20,000 reliable and trained giggers of whom 30% are skilled giggers.

“There has been an increase of about 200% in the adoption of the gig economy since the pandemic came about,” Muna told FocusM.

“Many people have lost their jobs and companies are cutting down on working hours, and this has led to more people exploring the gig economy as either a means to supplement their primary income or because they are unable to find a permanent job during the pandemic.”

But how prepared is Malaysia for the gig economy?

While the gig economy isn’t anything new in Malaysia and despite numerous initiatives by the Malaysia Digital. Economy Corporation (MDEC) among others, Muna opines that the gig economy ecosystem in the country is somewhat diluted.

“Rather than looking at gig economy as a separate entity altogether, the Government has lumped it together with start-ups, entrepreneurship and innovation.

“If you ask the ordinary people on the street about gig economy, you will realise two things: that some people are still unfamiliar with the term and what it entails, and that some of them, especially those from the younger generation, still mistaken ‘gig economy’ to mean e-hailing like Foodpanda and Grab.

“Gig economy still isn’t a term that’s widely used by Malaysians in general,” she pointed out.

However, there has been a positive turn of events since the onslaught of the pandemic, with the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) and Social Security Organisation (SOCSO) now recognising the income generated by gig workers.

Previously, it was reported that many gig workers were unsure about making EPF and SOCSO contributions as they do not have the cash to contribute.

The Government has, in June 2020, and through its National Economic Revival Plan (PENJANA), announced a RM50 mil matching grant for the gig economy to encourage workers to contribute to EPF’s i-Saraan and SOCSO’s Employment Injury Scheme.

Under the voluntary scheme of i-Saraan, the self-employed will receive an additional special government incentive of 15%, subject to a maximum of RM250 annually.

“This sort of recognition is further evidence that the pandemic has pushed the gig economy into the right direction, but there is still a lot of improvement to be done to create awareness and to promote the gig economy,” Muna concluded. – July 8, 2021.

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