SINGAPORE: The National Trades Union Congress, NTUC offers S$250 FairPrice vouchers for eligible freelance point-to-point and delivery workers if they get hurt while at work. The new NTUC Care Fund (Work Injury Relief) scheme is set to commence on Jan 15, 2024, offering a lifeline to injured taxi drivers, private-hire car drivers, and delivery riders who are members of NTUC-affiliated organizations, TODAY reports.

The beneficiaries of this scheme, members of the National Delivery Champions Association, the National Private Hire Vehicles Association, and the National Taxi Association, will be eligible to apply for the S$250 NTUC FairPrice supermarket vouchers. The scheme aims to provide quick and immediate financial help to workers who face a two-week wait before receiving assistance from existing government or community relief programs.

NTUC Secretary-General Ng Chee Meng highlighted the importance of this initiative, stating, “When freelance point-to-point and delivery workers come into hardship at work, their immediate concern is usually whether they are able to continue earning. For those who sustain injuries and find it difficult or unable to continue working, this becomes even more worrying.”

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Mr Ng also added, “This amount may not be much, S$250, but it can really help in the interim two weeks to sustain our members and their families. NTUC desires very much to give our members, especially in current situations where there’s elevated cost of living, the best we can. It’s not a very big sum, but we do our best.”

The NTUC Care Fund, with a committed sum of S$120,000 for the first tranche, serves as a bridge for workers who lack financial assistance schemes tailored to their needs. The fund is a collaboration among affiliated platform worker associations, with S$20,000 contributed by each. It is matched one-to-one by the NTUC-U Care Fund, supporting lower-income union members and their families.

The scheme, designed to offer immediate relief, allows injured workers to apply for vouchers while awaiting outcomes from other assistance programs or insurance claims. To qualify, workers must be prescribed medical or hospitalization leave for five or more consecutive days and apply within two weeks of the leave being issued.

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Eligible workers must submit proof of work and earnings within the specified timeframe, such as a screenshot from their delivery platform mobile application. The scheme, limited to two unique approved applications per member annually, demands a minimum of three months’ continuous paid membership to the three NTUC-affiliated associations at the application point.

The NTUC Care Fund addresses a crucial gap for these workers, who often lack coverage under the Workplace Injury Compensation Act and may not possess adequate personal accident insurance. The scheme’s prompt disbursement of vouchers within 48 to 72 hours of a successful application ensures timely support for injured workers.

The move has received mixed reactions from affected workers. Ms Suhada Abdullah, a single mother and delivery driver, appreciates the support but highlights that the S$250 might only cover one or two grocery trips. She said, “It’s better than nothing. I would like it if (NTUC) can continually support us until we stabilise (after an accident).”

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On the other hand, Mr Goh Yong Wei, who broke his arm in a collision, believes the vouchers will ease initial difficulties, though he expresses a preference for cash. He stated, “If I have three weeks medical leave, my priority is to cover my food. Even as I rest at home, I know everything will be paid for in at least the next two to three weeks while I apply for any other assistance and insurance claims.”/TISG