The gig economy and Victorian government workplace laws.

The gig economy and Victorian government workplace laws.

Tim Pallas, Victorian treasurer has signalled that legislation to protect gig workers will be introduced in the next Victorian parliament.

 A report titled ‘Digital Platform Work in Australia: Prevalence, Nature and Impact’ has been prepared by former Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James. 14,000 workers responded to the research inquiry.

The report showed clearly how important the gig economy was to Australian workers with over one million workers dependent on finding work on those platforms. The five largest employers of the gig workforce are Airtasker, Uber, Freelancer, Uber Eats and Deliveroo.

Tim Pallas has promised that the legislation will ‘plug the gaps and fix the inequities in the system to ensure these workers have the right to fair pay and safe working conditions’.

There is some concern that the laws may be overridden by law reform from the Commonwealth, but the Victorian Government is set to go ahead regardless, to provide workplace protection for its workers.

The report found:

  • On-demand workers are most likely to be young, urban, male and most likely English is their second language
  • 100 different platforms are being used to access work
  • 30% of respondents did not know if their platform had a dispute resolution process
  • Nearly half the respondents reported that their platform did not provide them with workers insurance
  • 40% did not know their hourly rate
  • An average of five hours per week was spent searching for work and bidding for jobs
  • As few as 2% of on-demand workers were making a living from gig work alone. For most it was a means to supplement their regular income
  • The legal position of these workers is very ambiguous…with very few rights or protections that could be enforced.
  • Two-thirds of respondents used the platforms to consume services and goods

There are big policy issues to be sorted as this legislation is introduced, particularly as the gig economy is not one homogenous group. There are some in the industry who believe the federal government is better placed to set the agenda to cover all workers, not just those in Victoria.

Annie Young

29/06/2020

This article has been prepared by WR Law. The information provided should not be relied upon as legal advice. You should speak with Rosa Raco directly about your specific circumstances via email rraco@wrlaw.com.au or phone 03 54996131.