The Future of Work: Why Malaysia Must Prioritise Gig Workers' Welfare

Currently, 374,906 self-employed individuals in Malaysia have SKSPS protection, including 315,107 active p-hailing riders and 59,799 e-hailing workers.

The Future of Work: Why Malaysia Must Prioritise Gig Workers' Welfare
Joelle Pang, General Manager of FastGig, FastCo Malaysia

By Joelle Pang, General Manager of FastGig, FastCo Malaysia

The gig economy is growing rapidly in Malaysia, and it's important to address the challenges and risks that come with this type of work. While gig work offers flexibility, gig workers often lack social protections, fair wages, continual learning and development, and safe working conditions.

Malaysia must prioritise the welfare of its gig workers by providing access to social protections like healthcare and retirement benefits. Ensuring fair wages, safe working conditions, and targeted work-related learning and training, can also improve the quality of life for gig workers.

The Rise of Gig Work in Malaysia

In Malaysia, gig workers are mainly concentrated in the services, agriculture, and industry sectors [1].

The Covid-19 pandemic has hastened the growth of the gig economy, with 26% of the nation’s labour force now working as full-time gig workers, which is equivalent to four million freelancers. The Services Sector dominates the gig economy, accounting for 97% of all gig workers, with 37% of them employed in the wholesale and retail trade activities.

Malaysia has identified 218 occupations such as store associates, warehouse packers, service crew, etc., that provide gig work opportunities, including flexible working hours, flexible work locations, and online presence. [1]

Government Initiatives to Support Gig Workers

Although gig work has its benefits, it also poses new challenges and risks for workers, particularly in Malaysia. A significant hurdle faced by gig workers in this country is the lack of social protections, including health insurance, retirement benefits, and paid time off.

This makes them financially vulnerable in the event of illness, injury, or scarce work opportunities. Furthermore, gig workers may be exploited by companies or clients who do not provide equitable wages or safe working conditions. A 2020 survey found that many gig workers face poor working conditions and economic insecurity. [2]

Malaysia's Human Resources Minister, V Sivakumar, has acknowledged that gig economy workers do not receive the protection of the Work Act 1995 and other labour ordinances, which entitle them to minimum wage benefits. To address this, his Ministry is considering the SelfEmployed Social Security Scheme (SKSPS) to provide insurance coverage for all sectors and mitigate the challenges faced by gig workers.

Currently, 374,906 self-employed individuals in Malaysia have SKSPS protection, including 315,107 active p-hailing riders and 59,799 e-hailing workers.This initiative is a significant step towards providing social protection to gig economy workers, who often have limited access to traditional employee benefits such as healthcare, insurance, and retirement savings plans.

The fund aims to support Malaysia's growing gig economy and ensure that workers are protected and can continue to contribute to the country's economic growth.Recent years have also seen the Government loosen requirements for retirement scheme contributions, making it accessible to self-employed, retired, and non-earning individuals, including gig workers.

This initiative provides an avenue for gig workers to save for retirement and recognises their contributions to the economy.

Corporate Responsibility Toward Gig Workers

Malaysian businesses have a significant responsibility to support the welfare of gig workers, in addition to government initiatives. This includes offering fair wages, safe working conditions, and opportunities for career growth. FastCo Malaysia is one such business that is redefining gig work and supporting the Malaysian gig economy through its mobile app, FastGig.

The app enables businesses to engage with verified Malaysian freelancers who can help them complete their tasks in a hassle-free and cost-effective manner. FastGig negotiates for fair hourly rates, provides gig workers with workplace insurance, and advocates for a safe and healthy working environment. Its efforts have resulted in a significant percentage of gig workers consisting of women, as women have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic.

Further, the app empowers local freelancers by providing a simple and convenient way to manage their freelance jobs. The first phase of FastGig, which focused on the Klang Valley, Johor, and Penang, has already helped over 4,000 Malaysian freelancers secure jobs across various industries, such as hypermarkets, retail, warehousing, and F&B, with over 400,000 hours worked and more than 50,000 shifts completed.

FastGig offers a quick and simple search process and frequent gigger payments made on a weekly basis; this is provided without the need for nerve-wracking interviews and long-term contracts, hence giving users control over their preferred gig work and required flexibility.

Role Of Trade Unions in Protecting Gig Workers' Rights

Trade unions can also play an important role in protecting the rights and welfare of gig workers. While gig workers are typically not covered by traditional union protections, there are emerging models of unionisation that are specifically designed to support gig workers.

These include organisations like the Freelancers Union in the United States, which advocates for the rights and protections of freelance workers.In Malaysia, there are also emerging efforts to organise and support gig workers. For example, the Malaysian Gig Economy and Part-Time Workers Association was established in 2019 to advocate for the rights of gig workers and promote greater social protections and benefits.

By supporting these types of organisations, we can help to ensure that gig workers have a voice and are able to advocate for their own rights and welfare.


Although the impending change in Malaysia’s future of work holds great promise, it poses major challenges that require individuals, corporations, and governments to adapt. Technology is not the only factor driving change. Socioeconomic, geopolitical, and demographic factors are also important.

All occupations are changing fundamentally as industries adapt, and everything will be monetised in the growing presence of the gig economy.

The Malaysian government can develop policies and regulations that protect the rights of gig workers, provide training and education opportunities, and foster synergistic partnershipsbetween gig platforms and traditional employers.

By taking these steps, Malaysia can create a more inclusive and sustainable economy that benefits all workers, including those in the gig economy.

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