Jul 23rd, 2018
The gig economy is facing tough scrutiny from both Federal and State Labor leaders. Both Federal Labor leader Bill Shorten, and NSW State Labor leader Luke Foley are set to revamp industrial relations laws to protect online platform workers including food delivery riders and those contracted to do individual tasks. Mr Foley said that reforms would be a “big priority” for a new Labor government.
In a major speech to the ACTU congress in Brisbane, Mr Shorten laid out the Opposition’s industrial relations policy plan, promising to restore penalty rates, end sham contracts and ‘phoenixing’ and provide proper conditions to gig economy workers. “I do not want us to be a nation where adults and working people have to work two and three and four jobs, just to make ends meet, just to be above the poverty line,” he said.
Workers who work through online platforms are currently classified as contractors, not as employees and are not entitled to the protections provided under the Commonwealth Fair Work Act. Delivery riders find it very hard to make minimum wage. They have no sick leave, no holidays and no accident compensation. Many work seven days a week just trying to keep up.
A test case is presently in court after the Fair Work Ombudsman launched legal proceedings against gig economy giant Foodora, alleging that the company engaged in “sham contracting,” resulting in the underpayment of three delivery workers.
The gig economy has so far managed to side step industrial relations laws. Modernising the laws for gig workers would entitle them to the same superannuation, annual leave and sick leave that employees have. Gig workers would be legally entitled to worker’s compensation when injured and the company using their services would be required to contribute to insurance premiums, as employers do.
As the nature of work changes, it is important for governments and unions to ensure that the rights of employees are respected.
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