Thu, Oct 24, 2019 - Page 8 News List

Gig economy must pay its share

By Dino Wei 魏世昌

Some delivery platforms in Taiwan claim that they have a “contractual” relationship with their couriers so that they do not have to pay for the couriers’ national health insurance. This means that couriers would not receive any compensation if they have an accident in the course of their work. It leaves them with no safeguards as workers.

Many people do delivery work as a full-time job. It is unreasonable for delivery platforms, which profit handsomely from the couriers work, to completely shirk their responsibility when accidents occur.

The Uber Eats platform in the US takes out accident insurance for its couriers. Each courier’s accident insurance activates as soon as the customer places an order.

In Japan, Uber Eats pays for insurance coverage of up to ¥100 million (US$922,100) in compensation for vehicles and accident victims if their couriers have traffic accidents while delivering food.

Uber Eats in Japan has announced that it provides health insurance for its couriers. Now, couriers who are injured in accidents could receive insurance benefits of up to ¥250,000 for medical treatment. If they die, their dependents could receive a death benefit of up to ¥10 million.

Taiwanese laws have not caught up with the emerging gig and platform economies. The government should step up with substantial measures, such as stipulating that platforms must pay for accident insurance for couriers. Taiwanese authorities should not allow food delivery companies to evade the consequences of couriers’ occupational accidents or permit them to reduce their operating costs by passing the financial burden on to the public.

Companies that reap a “bonus dividend” from the sharing economy must bear their social responsibility. It should not be thought of as a business burden, but rather as the paramount value of business ethics.

Dino Wei works in the information industry.

Translated by Julian Clegg

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