Talk At EPF Legal Conference

On Tuesday, 12 November, EPF (Employees Provident Fund) invited the founders of Maideasy, Azrul Rahim and myself to give a talk on the future of work, the gig economy and how this can impact the legal framework, especially where EPF is concerned. For employees of a company, every month the employees gives away 11% of their income along with another 11% from the employer for EPF contribution. The system works well with full time employees, however leaving a gap of non-compliance for part time employees. When we did a survey to our cleaning crew, EPF contributions still is highly regarded by them. Although they enjoy the flexibility offered by the gig economy, some kind of security is still desired by the cleaning crew.

Azrul talks about the future of work, how at the moment over 20% of the work force, particularly in America and UK comprises of gig workers, and that will escalate to over 50% in 2027. The discourse between systems of safety nets in developed countries and especially in Malaysia, does not keep up with the evolution of the nature of the work force to tackle challenges in the future. What happens to these gig workers who have hardly any form of retirement savings just because they are left out of the system?

In the future that we foresee, developments in AI and automation will leave large swathes of work to be taken over by machines, and that poses a problem for the human work force. As can be seen at present, we have many graduates that work in the low end jobs of the gig economy as riders, drivers and cleaners. The problem goes beyond economic challenges, but also a result of developments in technology.

Questions for EPF to ponder are, among others are, should gig workers voluntarily register themselves to the EPF scheme to have retirement savings? Should they be left out? These questions need deeper probing than just answer rhetorically. For example, typically, how long does a gig worker stay in the system? How do we allocate the amount for EPF when work is so unpredictable?

After the session, we had a sit down with the legal team of EPF and we exchanged ideas on these difficult issues. For sure in the future, there will be more dialogue with EPF and other government agencies in tackling the issues of the changing future of work.