Shining A Light On The Gig Economy

Almost two thirds of Australians routinely rely on online platforms such as Uber or Airtasker to buy goods and services, according to new research commissioned by the Victorian Government.

The landmark survey, conducted by researchers at Queensland University of Technology, the University of Adelaide and University of Technology Sydney, is Australia’s largest ever study regarding the on-demand economy.

Until now, little has been known about the true size of the gig economy, the characteristics of its workforce and the challenges participants face.

The survey was commissioned by the Victorian Government to support the work of the landmark Victorian Inquiry into the On-Demand Workforce. The Report is due to be released by the Government later this month.

It follows preliminary findings from the research that were released last year. The latest report contains additional analysis and a review of previous literature on platform work.

The Digital Platform Work in Australia: Prevalence, Nature and Impact report found 62.7 per cent of its 14,000 respondents had used an online marketplace in the previous 12 months, while 7.1 per cent of participants have used a digital platform to find and perform work.

The report provides valuable insight into the gig economy, including:

  • More than 100 different platforms are being used by respondents to undertake work. The five most popular platforms are Airtasker, Uber, Freelancer, Uber Eats and Deliveroo
  • More than a third of current platform workers work across more than one platform
  • Younger people and males are the most likely to find work through digital platforms, while people in major cities are more likely to have undertaken platform work than people in regional and remote areas
  • People who speak a language other than English at home are 1.5 times more likely to be platform workers
  • More than 30 per cent of respondents do not know whether their platform has a dispute resolution process, while nearly half report that their platform does not provide them with work-related insurance
  • When asked what they were earning from their main digital platform, 40 per cent of respondents did not know how much they were paid per hour.
  • An average of 4.9 hours per week is spent on unpaid platform activities designed to obtain work, such as updating profiles, quoting and searching and bidding for work

The Victorian Government’s landmark Inquiry was commissioned following widespread concern over the wages and conditions offered to workers in the gig economy. Chaired by former Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James, the Report will be presented to the Government and made public shortly.

Digital Platform Work in Australia: Prevalence, Nature and Impact was completed by Professor Paula McDonald, Associate Professor Robyn Mayes and Dr Penny Williams from the Queensland University of Technology, Professor Andrew Stewart of the Unversity of Adelaide, and Dr Damian Oliver from the University of Technology, Sydney.

To see the full survey, visit engage.vic.gov.au/inquiry-on-demand-workforce.

Quotes attributable to Minister for Industrial Relations Tim Pallas

This data shows us just how much we rely on gig economy workers. It’s essential they are given the protection they deserve.

Our landmark inquiry will ensure we can plug the gaps and fix the inequities in the system to ensure these workers have the right to fair pay and safe working conditions.