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Landmark Report Into The On-Demand Workforce

14 July 2020

A landmark report into the on-demand workforce commissioned by the Victorian Government has made a host of recommendations to make sure gig economy workers get the fair deal they deserve.

Minister for Industrial Relations Tim Pallas released the report today. Its recommendations include developing a code of conduct that better protects on-demand workers, the removal of barriers to collective bargaining, and a one-stop-shop support agency to help these workers when disputes arise.

The Inquiry into the Victorian On-Demand Workforce was chaired by former Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James, and commissioned by the Victorian Government in 2018 following widespread concern over the wages and conditions offered to workers in the gig economy.

It finds many workers have an uncertain work status, which can have consequences when it comes to things like superannuation and workers’ compensation, and advice about work status is often limited and fragmented.

More Australians than ever before are relying on online platforms to buy goods and services – and that means more Australians are undertaking on-demand work.

The inquiry received nearly 100 written submissions and consulted with more than 200 participants, and undertook a body of research which surveyed 14,000 respondents over their attitiudes and habits when it comes to participating in the gig economy.

There’s never been a more important time to reform the on-demand workforce, with the Report finding platform work is far more prevalent in Australia than previously thought, and as the economic impacts of coronavirus demonstrate, it is casual employees who are the first to be let go.

The Inquiry makes 20 recommendations and notes that any regulatory response should balance the needs of platform workers with those of business, so innovation and productivity isn’t stifled. The Report also makes a number of recommendations that the Commonwealth has responsibility for, such as Australia’s national work laws.

The Victorian Government will now consider the report, and will open a consultation period with workers and businesses before a response to the recommendations is finalised.

Quotes attributable to Minister for Industrial Relations Tim Pallas

“The gig economy is relied upon by millions of consumers and workers across the country, but there are holes when it comes to industrial relations that put workers’ rights to fair pay and conditions at risk.”

“This report will help plug the gaps that leave workers in these industries exposed and give workers a fair deal.”

Quote attributable to Inquiry into the Victorian On-Demand Workforce Chair Natalie James

“These recommendations will address residual uncertainty around the work status of many workers, including some who are in a vulnerable position in the labour market, and combat the costs of this uncertainty to workers and businesses alike.”

Reviewed 19 July 2020

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