Victorian Chamber urges caution on regulation of on-demand economy

Victorian Chamber of Commerce weighs in on state's inquiry into on-demand workforce.

Victoria’s peak body for business the Victorian Chamber of Commerce has urged the inquiry into Victoria’s on-demand workforce to avoid recommending regulatory changes that could damage opportunities for on-demand businesses and workers.

The On-Demand Workforce Inquiry, chaired by former Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James, is investigating the extent of the on-demand sector and the status of people working with or for online companies or platforms in Victoria.

The establishment of the inquiry, which commenced in October 2018 and is the first of its kind in Victoria, follows widespread concern about the wages and conditions being offered to workers in the on-demand and gig economy.

The on-demand sector is made up of a range of workers, consumers and platforms across different industries including commercial cleaning.

But the Victorian Chamber of Commerce says the on-demand sector is benefiting Victoria’s economy and that the inquiry should take care to avoid recommending regulatory changes that damage opportunities for on-demand businesses and workers.

Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry CEO Mark Stone said the reason why the on-demand economy is so successful is because, like sole traders and many small business operations, it offers flexibility, service integration and responsiveness.

“On-demand platforms can allow businesses to scale up and down according to customer demand, which is especially relevant to small business and start-ups,” he said.

“These platforms are disrupting and challenging the way Victorians work, traditional business models and the regulatory environment.”

In its submission the Victorian Chamber of Commerce recommended any policy or regulatory response should only occur at the federal level and only target vulnerable workers, without impacting high-end on-demand work facilitated by platforms.

The business group argued the inquiry should not impair innovation or competition or impede the broader use of independent contracting by businesses and consumers, adding there is scope for governments to help on-demand workers clarify their employment status and ensure online platforms are not misrepresenting employment relationships.

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