On-demand work platforms are deliberately structuring worker arrangements to dodge Australia’s regulations, a new report has found.
The platforms – such as Uber, Deliveroo and AirTasker – have been under the scrutiny of a Victorian government-commissioned inquiry since September 2018 and the report was released on Wednesday.
Almost 100 written submissions were made and 200 people consulted during the inquiry, which made 20 recommendations.
“Platforms have been deliberate in framing their arrangements with workers,” the report reads.
“This enables platforms to avoid the operation of close and detailed labour regulation while other businesses are carrying the costs of complying with those requirements.”
The inquiry found 18.6 per cent of gig economy workers take part in transport or delivery work, notching the largest slice of the gig sector.
A Deliveroo spokeswoman told AAP that riders “want to be empowered to set their own work patterns and decide when and where to work”, which is why it offers the “popular flexible, self-employed work”.
“We have long argued for reform to the on-demand economy to increase riders’ security and protect flexibility, which is in line with riders’ wishes, and we would support any measures that achieve this,” the organisation states.
Any moves to restrict the flexible work would negatively impact the on-demand economy, especially restaurants, according to Deliveroo.
But the uncertain work status can have consequences when it comes to superannuation and workers’ compensation.
The federal government is responsible for national workplace laws, so it should take responsibility for change, according to the inquiry.
However, in the absence of Commonwealth leadership, the Victorian government should bring more certainty, fairness and choice for platform workers in the state, it recommends.
Victorian Trades Hall Council’s Luke Hilakari said the laws needed to be changed to make sure gig workers have the same rights as others.
“Our employment and occupational health and safety laws must be updated to protect gig economy workers from these unscrupulous employment practices,” Mr Hilakari said.
Young Workers Centre director Felicity Sowerbutts agreed, saying the gig economy exploits workers – especially migrant workers on temporary visas.
“They are struggling with low-pay, unpaid work and their work isn’t covering their bills,” she said on Wednesday.
The Transport Workers’ Union wants the federal government to regulate the gig economy to better support workers’ rights.
“It highlights the control these employers have over them and how little chance workers have to bargain for better rates and conditions,” TWU Victoria Tasmania secretary John Berger said in a statement.