Vic Labor Deliveroo’s for On-Demand Workers

September 24, 2018

The Andrews Labor Government will launch an Australian-first inquiry into the on-demand workforce and gig economy, following widespread claims of workers being underpaid and poorly treated.

The TWU (Vic/Tas Branch) congratulates the government on establishing the Victorian Inquiry into the On-Demand Workforce, which will investigate the conditions of workers working to digital platforms.

The inquiry will be chaired by former Commonwealth Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James and will investigate the status of people working with or for on-line companies or platforms in Victoria.

The establishment of the inquiry follows widespread concern about the wages and conditions being offered to workers in the on-demand gig economy, where people are often categorised as independent contractors. There are also concerns from many businesses about the lack of a level playing field.

TWU Vic/Tas Branch Secretary John Berger said the product of an unregulated industry was highlighted last month when food delivery company Foodora signalled its exit from Australia shortly after the Fair Work Ombudsman commenced action in the Federal Court, alleging the company had engaged in sham contracting.

A year-long Australian Senate inquiry into the future of work, which investigated the gig economy, handed down its report this week and recommended changes to workplace laws in order to “broaden the definition of employee to capture gig economy workers”, saying Australian law is up to a decade behind some other countries.

But companies such as Uber and Deliveroo, which argue they are simply technology platforms, have based their economic model on not having to pay the on costs of employing workers and argue they should be classified as contractors.

The inquiry will examine allegations and determinations concerning contracting arrangements and whether these arrangements are being used to avoid workplace laws and other statutory obligations in Victoria.

It will review the application and effective enforcement of workplace laws, including accident compensation, superannuation and health and safety to people in the gig economy.

The inquiry will also examine how on-demand workers are regulated internationally and interstate, including Australia’s obligations under international law.

The inquiry is expected to deliver a final report to the Government in late 2019 and will be seeking public submissions, worker and business input.

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