A future NSW Labor Government would introduce new measures within industrial relations law to better protect gig economy workers, Opposition leader Michael Daley has promised.
As part the its campaign for better jobs ahead of the NSW state election in March, Mr Daley says Labor would introduce a new chapter in the existing Industrial Relations Act dedicated to the gig economy.
Within this new chapter, a future Labor government would provide specific definitions in the law of ‘gig’ workers, and the ‘platforms’ or ‘networks’ through which work is provided.
Mr Daley said the Industrial Relations Commission would be given the power to also make orders providing minimum rates of pay to ensure those in the gig economy “receive the same entitlement to superannuation, annual holidays, sick leave, and all the other benefits that employees are legally entitled to.”
The changes Mr Daley would also clarify the legal entitlements that gig economy workers have if they were injured on the job, and the requirement for platforms and networks to pay insurance premiums in the same way other employers do.
“While the legal rights of these workers are being tested in courts in Europe, Britain and the USA, it is with mixed results, and there is much uncertainty. That is just not good enough,” he said.
“We will also modernise and improve the unfair contract laws in the IR Act so they are fit for purpose in the 21st century and can be used more quickly and inexpensively than at present.
“People who work in the gig economy should have minimum pay and safe workplaces, like other workers. We must create a legal framework for the setting and enforcement of minimum pay and conditions for all ’gig’ workers.”
Gig economy companies like Uber, Deliveroo and Foodora have long been surrounded by controversy over workers’ rights and exploiting vulnerable people. Specifically the issues have related to the no insurance, poor working conditions, classification of workers, and lack of superannuation and other benefits.
Deliveroo recently called for a new Future Work Act to be introduced to govern the controversial sector as part of a public submission to the Victorian government’s inquiry into the on-demand workforce.
In its submission, the company proposed there should emphasis on the “flexibility” of its workers and classifying workers as contractors instead of employees under the legislation.
However, the proposal was slammed by the Transport Workers Union (TWU), which accused Deliveroo’s suggestion as a way of “throwing workers a bone to try shut them up”.
The TWU has been campaigning for better rights for workers in the gig economy for years.
At federal level, a Labor-led Senate committee late last year recommended tighter regulation of the gig economy be introduced and the definition of an ‘employee’ be expanded to include those working for these on-demand platforms or networks.
Similar suggestions have been knocked back by the government arguing any further regulations will stifle innovation in the sector.