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Australian and SA Governments sign landmark skills agreement

The Hon Tony Burke MP

World-leading legislation to protect gig workers

The Albanese Labor Government will protect gig workers with world-leading new laws that set minimum workplace standards.

Under our laws “employee-like” workers on digital platforms – such as rideshare drivers and food delivery riders – will no longer fall through the cracks.

The landmark change will be part of the Government’s Closing Loopholes Bill, which will be introduced into Parliament next week.

At least 13 gig workers have died on Australian roads in the last few years. That’s unacceptable.

We know there is a direct link between low rate of pay and safety: it leads to a situation where workers take risks so they can get more work because they’re struggling to make ends meet.

We can’t continue to have a situation where the 21st century technology of the gig platforms comes with 19th century conditions.

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.

We’re not trying to turn people into employees when they don’t want to be employees. A whole lot of gig workers like the flexibility from using this technology and that won’t change under our laws.

But just because someone is working in the gig economy shouldn’t mean that they end up being paid less than they would if they’d been an employee. 

Australia is a country where you shouldn’t have to rely on tips just to get by.
Under our legislation:

  • The Fair Work Commission will be empowered to set minimum standards for employee-like workers in the gig economy. Employee-like workers will be those who perform work through a digital labour platform – such as in food delivery, ride share and the care economy.
  • Eligible parties will be able to apply to the Fair Work Commission for minimum standards orders that are tailored for the work performed under them.
  • The Fair Work Commission will have discretion to consider a range of terms that may be included in an order, such as payment terms, working time, record-keeping and insurance.
  • The Commission will not set minimum standards on terms such as overtime rates, rostering arrangements and terms that would change how a worker is engaged. This ensures minimum standards will benefit workers without requiring them to forego the flexibility they value.
  • Employee-like workers will also be protected from unfair deactivation by digital labour platforms, and will have the right to ask the Fair Work Commission to resolve disputes.

These reforms will allow the Fair Work Commission to respond flexibly to new and evolving platforms and business models which disrupt faster than laws can be amended.

Our changes will in no way affect independent contractors who have a high-degree of control and autonomy over their work, such as skilled tradespeople.

This is about protecting workers who don’t meet the definition of ‘employee’ but who are not genuine small businesses either.

The introduction of this legislation follows extensive consultation – with more than 100 meetings with digital labour platforms, employer groups and unions since August last year. 

The previous government didn’t think it was a problem people were getting paid below the legal minimum.

The Albanese Labor Government is taking a different approach and we will close this loophole.

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