Working As A Food Delivery Rider: Are We Paid Enough?

delivery man wearing a face mask and riding a bicycle
man in a face mask handing over a thermal bag to another man
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Food delivery riders are a common sight these days as the demand for food delivery services continues to rise. It’s interesting to know that over 60% of delivery riders in Singapore joined the gig services in order to earn more during their free time. Thanks to the Covid pandemic lockdown, many of us have become accustomed to having our food ordered from a delivery rider.

However, as we begin transitioning our life away from the lockdown. There is now less demand for such convenience services. 47 out of 58 riders, or 81 percent, told The New Paper that they are earning less now than before.

This leads to the big question: are they paid enough for the work they do? In this article, we will explore the challenges faced by food delivery riders and shed light on their pay and work conditions.

Life of a delivery rider

The work of a food delivery rider involves navigating through traffic, finding the right addresses, and making timely deliveries while carrying heavy loads. They often have to interact with customers who may not be very understanding or accommodating.

Loneliness is also a significant issue for food delivery riders as they spend most of their working hours alone. It’s not uncommon to see riders taking smoke breaks in-between work in order to pass time.

It’s tough work

One of the biggest challenges of the job is maintaining a good cancellation rate. Sometimes, riders face angry customers who demand to know where their orders are.

One of the biggest challenges has to do with the lack of unique or block numbers can make finding the right location difficult, leading to delays and lost earnings. Despite these challenges, in order to recover lost time and provide higher-quality service. Riders need to find ways to move up the ranks through a debt system or a tier system, where higher tiers offer better pay and more benefits.

However, many riders find themselves stuck in a cycle of hustling hard just to make ends meet. The extra income from working harder comes with risks, including an increased likelihood of accidents. Additionally, a rider’s earnings depend largely on the platform’s algorithm, which determines how orders are assigned and delivery fees are set.

How Rider Earn Money by Providing Delivery Services

The tier system is like a video game, where riders collect points to move up tiers. The higher the tier, the more benefits a rider gets, such as priority orders during certain hours. However, riders must maintain a minimum number of orders to avoid being downgraded and losing their benefits.

In a recent Singapore survey that publishes its finding in November 2022, only 3.2%, or 32 out of 1,002 food delivery riders make over $5,000 a month from food delivery. And only the top 10% of delivery riders make more than $3,500 per month. The survey also indicates many worrying signs of being in this line of work. Including the ever-looming fear of increased competition, and health and safety risk in the line of work.

It can be Dangerous

The survey by the Singapore Ministry of Manpower also shares some troubling signs of working in the industry. 24.3% of delivery riders earning less than $1,000 each month have reported at least one work-related injury.

If a rider works more hours, they are more likely to have had a work-related accident. For example, if a rider works 51 hours or more each week, there is a 38.3% chance that they have had a work-related accident at least once. This shows how the delivery riding service is not actually a good long-term job for people to take up.

No Protection for Riders

Delivery service providers do not provide delivery riders with full-time jobs. These types of jobs are considered freelance work and therefore these people do not enjoy health protection benefits offered by most companies. This means if they were to get into a work-related injury, the rider has to be the one to pay for his/her medical fee.

In just the past 18 months, 5 delivery riders were killed on the road while delivering food to customers. This highlights the issue of not having enough protection to ensure the safety of riders working for such jobs.

Why People are still willing to work as a Delivery Rider

Given the hard work and dangers of working as a delivery rider. Some might argue why are people still working in such high-risk jobs. The answer can be broken down into 3 different words.


Some people do not like to work in an office space environment or interact with people. Working as delivery riders gives riders the option to work anytime they want and make money without having someone breathing down their neck. It can be rather peaceful to work this job since all you are required is deliver food and wait for the next order to arrive.

Easy to Start

Unlike applying for a job, going for interviews, and submitting a whole list of things you have done on your resume. Working as a delivery rider doesn’t actually require much knowledge or skills. This means anyone willing to sweat under the heat or travel long distances to make money can apply for the job.

Thanks to its low barrier of entry, many people with disability are able to work as delivery riders. To date, Foodpanda employs roughly 60 riders with disabilities (approximately 1% of its entire workforce), while GrabFood provides work for 20 riders with physical disabilities from its 13,000 labor force. It’s not much yet but it’s a good start to supporting people with disability.

Keeping Fit

It’s interesting to know that some students are taking up delivery as a side gig in order to make some spare cash and keep fit. On average, delivery riders have to travel about 2km in Singapore just to deliver food to the customer’s doorsteps. These students would ride their bicycle in order to make a few bucks per delivery.

It’s not an Easy Work

Safe to say, food delivery service may not be the right choice for you to work in the long term. Companies like Amazon buy drone companies like Zipline in order to send deliveries and Tesla cars in America do delivery services from their FSD(full self-driving vehicle). Food delivery services are not a sustainable side hustle that people should be going out for.

So if you are looking to find a side hustle that’s right for you, be sure to check out our side hustle page. Where we share over 100 articles on side hustles and maybe you can find the right one for you there!

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