Gig employee situations ‘not acceptable’: inquiry

Gig economy workers need more protection and dispute resolution methods, according to a long-standing review of the Australian sector that has warned drivers and drivers at companies like Uber and Deliveroo that they are underpaid and lack adequate health and safety protection.

A Labor Party-led investigation by the Senate Committee on Job Security released its first interim report on Thursday, examining on-demand platform work in Australia. The 15 recommendations include a new federal regulator to monitor platform companies and a legislative reform to recognize workers as employees.

The report notes that while work can provide great flexibility for businesses and workers, it comes at dangerous costs.

“Regardless of [flexibility], the committee firmly believes that current agreements, conditions and pay rates are unacceptable for gig workers and do not provide them with sufficient income or other protection to support themselves and their families, ”it said.

A Labor-led Senate investigation has called for major gig economy reforms to be spearheaded by the federal government.

The report also found that gig economy workers often work in risky, unsafe jobs and face “unrealistic time and performance pressures”, but have little capacity for improvement.

The investigation, which will produce a final report in November, has now received more than 120 comments from stakeholders, including all of the major gig economy platform companies, who insist that workers are independent contractors, not workers, and are paid fairly.

Senators from the Liberal and National Party involved in the investigation rejected the report’s findings as a biased “partisan gag” and supported only two of the 15 recommendations, both relating to expanding labor force data collection.

At hearings, Australian unions have warned that gig economy workers suffer from unsafe working conditions and are paid well below the minimum wage, while platform company Amazon has laid off workers for even speaking to unions. Amazon denied the allegation.

In interim results, however, the research found that gig economy workers in Australia are not paid fairly and recommended reforms for the sector and more independent data collection. The Committee also expressed concern that on-demand platform work “disproportionately and negatively affects disadvantaged groups”, including indigenous peoples, women, young people, older workers, people with disabilities and migrant workers.

Platform companies told the survey that the “independent contractors” they use to deliver food, parcels and people are paid slightly above the minimum wage for flexible work.

Uber shared the request that it charges up to 25 percent of a fare, not including the GST that the customer pays. According to the ridesharing giant, drivers have around $ 21 an hour left after spending. However, the transportation union says the effective wage for an Uber driver, including all costs, is less than $ 13 an hour.

When asked, grocery and package delivery workers earn similarly low wages, the union said, which ranks gig workers among the worst paid people in Australia. The Australian minimum wage for casual workers is $ 24.80.

The interim report called for workers in the gig economy to be given a tariff “that recognizes the value of their work,” and that they should be given conditions that ensure they are not forced to work when they are sick or that their families are not remain penniless if injured or killed, the committee of inquiry found.

According to the report, they should also receive an old-age pension and have access to health and safety measures that provide dispute settlement and anti-discrimination and harassment mechanisms.

“The Committee believes that fundamental changes are needed in the structure of the on-demand platform work to ensure that people are given some security in their work, that they are paid fairly, can work as safely as possible, and that they are protected “for themselves and their families if they are sick, injured or killed at work.”

The preliminary recommendations include expanding national labor surveys to capture demand-driven workers and their injuries, while guidelines for the application of national labor protection laws to jobs in the gig economy should be developed as a “priority”, even if due diligence is in the disability work .

The report also recommended requiring platform companies to pay workers’ compensation awards to workers, and the Australian government should spearhead reform of state compensation systems to expand to platform workers. An intergovernmental NDIS entitlement system should also be put in place to allow workers to grant long-term transferable leave, sick leave and other leave and training entitlements.

The federal government should also update the Fair Work Act to expand the definitions of employment and workers to include “new and evolving forms of work”.

The Fair Work Commission should also be given broader powers to monitor and enforce workers’ rights, while a new federal regulator should be considered to provide more oversight over on-demand businesses.

The recommendations also include the demand for a separate study by the NDIS on the effects of the platform work on the system, which should also receive more regulations to support employees.

But the two government senators, National Senator Matthew Canavan and Liberal Senator Ben Small, have rejected all but the two data collection recommendations, claiming the investigation was a “partisan ploy”.

“Government senators support workplace legislation and reforms that encourage greater flexibility for all stakeholders and achieve better economic results for both companies and workers of all levels,” they said in their dissenting report.

The committee is expected to present its final report by November 30, 2021.

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