The Federal Government will introduce a bill to give gig economy workers their own set of minimum worker protections.
The proposal is targeted at protecting gig economy workers who may perform similar hours to part-time or full-time employees, but are excluded from key workplace entitlements.
The gig economy
Gig workers are usually independent contractors who perform on-demand work, for example, delivery drivers for Uber Eats.
At the end of 2020, around 250,000 Australians were believed to be working in the gig economy, which has expanded rapidly in recent years.
However, gig workers don’t receive the same workplace entitlements as most employees.
The draft laws
The Government’s proposed laws aim to give gig workers the job security afforded to most other workers.
The bill would allow the Fair Work Commission, Australia’s national workplace relations tribunal, to set out minimum standards for gig-workers around issues like pay and insurance.
Standards will likely vary depending on the type of work, but could address payment and safety concerns.
Minimum standards won’t extend to overtime rates and rostering. Under the legislation, gig workers will also be protected against unfair deactivation from their platform.
The standards would apply to people using a digital platform, such as Uber, to perform their work.
If passed, the legislation would come into effect in July next year.
Workplace Relations Minister Tony Burke, on the reforms
“At the moment if you’re classed as an employee you have a whole lot of rights such as sick leave, annual leave and minimum rates of pay. If not, all those rights fall off a cliff. What we want to do is turn the cliff into a ramp.”
Shadow Workplace Relations Minister Michaelia Cash said the Opposition would review the legislation once it’s made available to them.
However, Cash raised concerns about the proposed reform’s impact on the flexibility of gig-economy work.
“The last thing we want to see is innovative digital businesses being penalised and forced back to more traditional ways of working that don’t meet customer demands. This could mean less work opportunities for workers who want them.”