Vic govt releases report into on-demand workforce

Landmark report into on-demand workforce lists 20 recommendations.

A landmark report into the on-demand workforce commissioned by the Victorian government has made a host of recommendations.

Minister for Industrial Relations Tim Pallas released the report on Wednesday, 15 July. 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.

Pallas said 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,” Pallas said.

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.

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.

James said the 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.”

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.

Last month a survey commissioned by the state government to support the work of the inquiry found almost two thirds of Australians routinely rely on online platforms such as Uber or Airtasker to buy goods and services.

The 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.

It follows preliminary findings from the research that were released last year.

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