The Andrews Labor Government’s Inquiry into the On-Demand Workforce has received almost 100 submissions from workers, unions, businesses and academics, with the exploitation of staff and unfair business advantage being major themes.
Minister for Industrial Relations Tim Pallas and Chair of the Inquiry Natalie James today thanked submitters for sharing their experiences, with the submissions being made public today.
It marks the next step forward for the inquiry, which was launched in December 2018 to address concerns within the fast-growing gig economy, which covers businesses such as on-demand ride-sharing and food-delivery services.
One of the main themes emerging from the submissions is that, without access to minimum employment standards or collective bargaining, workers in the gig economy could be vulnerable to exploitation.
One assessment is that 3 out of 4 surveyed workers are being paid under the minimum rate for casuals.
On the flip side, more traditional businesses also explained that their on-demand competitors are not required to comply with the same employment and other workplace laws and so have lower costs, which creates an uneven playing field.
Several submissions, including from gig economy businesses, highlighted the benefits of the on-demand economy to offer opportunities to grow markets, improve services and create jobs. They acknowledge that there can be significant benefits when traditional businesses partner with on-demand platforms.
Further consultation with workers, businesses and related parties will now occur, with a final report due in late 2019. The inquiry is still in the information-gathering stage and has not yet made any conclusions. The submissions can be viewed at engage.vic.gov.au/inquiry-on-demand-workforce.
Quotes attributable to Minister for Industrial Relations Tim Pallas
“We’re all benefitting from the gig economy – there’s probably very few Victorians who haven’t used their services – but we can’t allow convenience to get in the way of a fair go for workers and businesses.”
“I want to thank all Victorians who have participated in the on-demand inquiry – it’s vital we hear directly from workers, consumers and businesses about how they’re faring.”
Quotes attributable to Inquiry into the On-demand Workforce Chair Natalie James
“The submissions emphasise the strong demand for flexibility for workers and the value of convenience for consumers. But there are concerns that this flexibility comes at the cost of worker protections.”
“A strong theme running through the submissions is the lack of transparency about how those brokering work determine prices, allocate jobs or terminate a worker’s access to the platforms – the inquiry will be giving this close consideration.”