Uber vs Grab – which is better to work for?

Nov 04, 2016 05.33PM |

by Suhaile Md 

IT’S hard to find a job. There are more job-seekers than there are vacancies in Singapore – a first since June 2012 according to the Manpower Ministry’s labour report last month. 

Could the growing gig economy be your sustenance instead? Tech companies like Uber and Grab have made such work easily available after all – though, they may not give you full benefits.

As the Coordinating Minister for Economic and Social Policies, Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam, said last Tuesday (Oct 25) at a forum: Those who work in the gig economy run “the risk of not being prepared for retirement because of a lack of social security contributions.”  

To find out more about the benefits Uber and Grab have to offer, we attended the briefings for prospective drivers over the past week.

First thing we learnt: Drivers are not employees of either Grab or Uber – they are self-employed. Which means, no CPF contributions. Second, neither company owns any cars. Prospective drivers who don’t own a car, will have to rent it. As for insurance, Uber does not provide any. Grab though, provides free group personal accident insurance (PAI) for drivers and passengers. Car insurance coverage depends on the rental company. Both companies also take a 20 per cent cut of the fare earned per trip.




Image Uber e táxis em São Paulo by Flickr user Núcleo Editorial. (CC BY 2.0)


No CPF, no insurance, no leave, because well, you’re self-employed. But the salary seems to be good.

Salary: You stand to make $4,800 (after Uber’s cut) per month, for the first three months IF you fulfil the following conditions:

  1. You must drive at least 240 hours per month. That’s an average of eight hours a day, seven days a week.
  2. Make 1.25 trips per hour. According to the presenter, as long as the second passenger has entered your car within one hour of your first passenger entering, you’ve hit 1.25 trips an hour.
  3. After the first three months, you’re on your own. You earn the fare per trip, with no top ups from Uber. But there are incentives to capitalise on and earn more. Read more here.

If you meet the above conditions but you make less than $4,800 (after Uber’s cut) in fares, then Uber will top up the balance.

Earning $4,800 a month may sound a lot, but remember it does not include car rental fees and petrol costs. Car rentals from Uber’s partner, Lion City Rental, start at $488 a week.

Medical: None.

Perks: You can get an 18 per cent discount at Esso petrol pumps. And up to 30 per cent if you use your own car or rent one from Lion City Rental. But you have to apply for an Uber fuel card first.




Image MyTeksi’s by Flickr user Vernon Chan. (CC BY 2.0)


Again, no CPF and no leave. But unlike Uber, Grab provides free group PAI. Read more here.

Salary: Grab has a form of guaranteed income scheme as well. But it’s different to Uber’s.

Grab divides the day into time blocks. The weekday morning block for example, is from six to 11. Each block has an hourly income preset to it. Suppose a time block presets an income of $30 per hour of work. But you only collected $20 in fares in an hour. Grab will top up $10. Depending on the block, the hourly income is set between $16 and $30. To earn the assigned hourly rate, you must meet the following criteria:

  1. You must drive for at least two hours within the time block to qualify for the guaranteed hourly rate.
  2. You must make at least 1.6 trips per hour. Unlike Uber, the presenter was not clear as to how this would look like in practise.
  3. You have to accept at least 90 per cent of the jobs assigned to you. This is on a weekly basis.
  4. You cannot cancel more than 10 per cent of the jobs you have accepted. This is also on a weekly basis.
  5. You must maintain at least a 4.5 driver rating, which is the customer’s feedback through the app.

According to the presenter, if you fulfil the conditions above, you can make over $6,000 (before Grab’s cut) per month. This excludes car rental and fuel costs. It also assumes you work in the blocks with the highest preset hourly wages. This would be the weekday morning block, from six to 11, which pays $30 per hour. And the evening block, from four to eight, which pays $25 per hour.

Bonus: This is a year-long scheme. You earn a cash bonus of $400 a month for the first three months. Then $200 a month for the next nine months. But only if you make at least 380 trips every month, which is about 13 trips a day. Plus, you have to fulfil conditions two to five as well on a monthly basis.

There’s another catch. You cannot redeem your bonus until the end of the year-long scheme. If you stop working before a year is up, you lose all your bonus.

Medical: Whether or not you can claim depends on how much cash bonus you have accrued. If you don’t have any bonus accrued, then there’s nothing for you to claim from. Even then, it’s capped at $1,500. Although yes, the claims are processed immediately – it would be pointless otherwise.

Perks: With the Grab fuel card, there is an 18 per cent discount at Shell petrol stations. You can read more here.

Still unsure that the gig economy is about? Read more here:

Taking a gamble on the gig economy


Additional reporting by Iffah Nadhirah Osman.

Featured image by Sean Chong.

If you like this article, Like The Middle Ground‘s Facebook Page as well!

For breaking news, you can talk to us via email.