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Financial Health of Workers in the Gig Economy – A Case Study of Grab Drivers and Delivery Partners

Like traditional employment, gig work can be performed on a part-time or full-time basis. However, unlike traditional employment, each gig – or job – is usually performed at the discretion of the gig worker. In the ride-hailing/delivery industry in particular, these gigs are completed in minutes. The decisions of which gig to undertake and how many are the prerogative of the gig worker, allowing for flexible hours and control over one’s schedule and clients to a degree inconceivable in traditional employment.

While gig work has its advantages, trade-offs exist. Since gig work is not affiliated with an employer, gig workers lack access to benefits and social security mechanisms that often accompany traditional jobs. Gig workers, like other categories of informal workers, face challenges in accessing services such as financial products, skills development or social support.

To better understand the financial realities facing gig workers, UNCDF conducted a cross-sectional survey across five platforms in Malaysia and China, including Grab, between January and July of 2020. Grab is a super app provides everyday services such as mobility, food, package and grocery delivery, mobile payments and financial services across eight countries in Southeast Asia. A total of 14,089 Grab drivers and delivery partners participated in a financial health, behaviours and services survey.

This report analyses the financial lives of Grab drivers and delivery partners and, by extension, those who participate in short-term employment. Based on the research findings, it offers recommendations to platforms, financial service providers and policymakers to help gig workers lead well-rounded financial lives.

UNCDF
The UN Capital Development Fund makes public and private finance work for the poor in the world’s 47 least developed countries (LDCs). With its capital mandate and instruments, UNCDF offers “last mile” finance models that unlock public and private resources, especially at the domestic level, to reduce poverty and support local economic development.