‘Not acceptable’ says Senate committee of Australia’s gig economy working conditions

A Senate committee leading an investigation into the Australian gig economy has raised concerns that companies like Deliveroo, Uber and Amazon are underpaid riders and drivers and given inadequate health and safety protections.

“The committee firmly believes that the current regulations, conditions and wage rates for gig employees are unacceptable and do not offer them sufficient income or other protection to provide for themselves and their families,” the Special Committee on Job Security outlined in his first interim report [PDF] which examines the current state of on-demand platform work in Australia.

“The Committee believes that it is imperative for gig workers – and all workers in this regard – to be paid at a rate that rightly recognizes the value of the work they have done and that they are offered different terms and conditions who ensure that they do not have to work when they are sick, they are safe at work and their families are not in distress when they are injured or killed, that they will receive a pension to ensure a financially stable future and that they have access to other labor protection measures that enable dispute resolution and mechanisms to combat discrimination and harassment. “

The report describes that gig employees are not only exposed to abuse, assault, discrimination and sexual harassment, but are also at risk of serious injury or death due to “unrealistic time and performance pressures combined with high-risk work environments and scarcity” training and suitable protective equipment “.

“The committee believes that a safe work environment is a fundamental right for all workers, including gig workers. The current regulations for gig workers clearly do not provide the health and safety protection that Australian society expects – as in other employment regulations – nor the requirements and ongoing support necessary to keep gig workers as safe as possible at work hold and take care of them and their families if they are injured or killed, “the report said.

Chaired by Senator Tony Sheldon, the committee received 122 submissions, including from major gig economy platform companies like Uber, Deliveroo, Ola, and Amazon, who each argued that their platforms are designed to provide individuals with additional income and flexibility.

The committee noted, however, that gig economy workers are not paid fairly, pointing out that Transport Workers’ Union (TWU) workers earn on average A $ 12.85 an hour, which is “well below” the national one Minimum wage of A $ 24.80 is available for casual workers. In contrast, Uber reported that its Sydney-based drivers, for example, were receiving an average of A $ 21 an hour after spending.

At the same time, the committee found that “a significant part” of the platform workers did not know how much they were making per hour.

Other concerns raised by the committee in the report included that gig economy workers, who worked the most frequently and were dependent on gig work, affected “disproportionately and negatively vulnerable groups”, including women, young people, the elderly Workers, Aborigines and residents of Torres Strait Island, the disabled, migrants, students, low paid and formerly unemployed.

The Committee made a total of 15 recommendations on these issues. Including for the Australian Government, the definitions of employment and workers in the Fair Work Act 2009 “To capture new and changing forms of work” and to extend the powers of the Fair Work Commission (FWC) under the law so that it could extend the same rights and protections to those who may not fall under the definition of employment as and place orders for minimum standards and conditions for all forms of work.

The committee also wants the federal government to set up an “accessible, low-cost” national court to advise, oversee, and make decisions about employment relationships, while looking for federal regulation empowering to solicit data from platforms that and contract workers, including wage rates, hours worked and other relevant information necessary to monitor that safety, competition and workers rights are adequately provided to contractors.

In addition, it was recommended that the federal government work with state and territory governments to develop a national system that extends and aligns with existing systems related to long-term transferable leave, sick leave, minimum wage standards, safety and insurance, workers’ compensation and basic protection for employees.

The need for both the Australian Bureau of Statistics and Safe Work Australia to improve their data collection process to provide greater clarity about the number of workers in the gig economy, injuries and deaths from working in the sector, and other demographics were also recommended in the report.

The Senate Select Committee will present its final report on November 30, 2021.

In February, the federal opposition leader Anthony Albanese promised that the Labor Party would get job security, pay and Claims for gig economy workers as part of their political pitch that the party would bring to the next election.

“It is time for a national approach. It is for this reason that a Labor government that I lead will consult state and territorial governments, trade unions and industry to develop transferable annual leave, sick leave and long service entitlements for Australians in unsafe work where practicable. ” , he said.

The Labor Plan, a National approach to protecting gig economy workers answers calls made by the Victorian government in July when it made 20 recommendations as part of the state government’s investigation into the on-demand workforce.

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