In brief 2 min read
The Inquiry into the On-Demand Workforce (the Inquiry) released its report into the ‘on-demand’ workforce in the Victorian labour market (the Report) on 15 July 2020. The Report makes a number of recommendations to update the current system, including the creation of a body to deal with work status disputes and the removal of barriers to collective bargaining for non-employees.
- The Victorian Government will consider the Report and recommendations, and will consult with workers and businesses, before deciding how it will respond to the recommendations.
- If recommendations are adopted, businesses with significant non-employee, on-demand workforces will likely face increased pressure to seek a work status determination and offer greater transparency about their worker contracts.
In late 2018, following widespread concern over wages and conditions offered to gig workers, the Victorian Government commissioned an Inquiry into the Victorian On-Demand Workforce, appointing former Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James as chairperson.
On-demand work, or 'gig work', arises where workers are sourced on an 'as-needs' basis, offering flexibility to both workers and businesses. While online platforms have increasingly been used to organise on-demand work, the Inquiry found that many workers are uncertain about their work status, which has created confusion over access to entitlements, protections and obligations under laws relating to superannuation, workplace health and safety, tax and workers' compensation insurance.
The Report outlines 20 recommendations to help provide genuine choice, fair conduct and certainty for on-demand workers. They include:
- clarifying and codifying work status to reduce uncertainty about status and the application of entitlements, protections and obligations for workers and businesses;
- aligning work status across workplace laws (including employment, superannuation and workplace health and safety laws);
- establishing a Streamlined Support Agency to provide advice and support to self-employed platform workers;
- establishing a specialised body to assist in resolving disputes about work status;
- promoting fair conduct for platform workers by establishing Fair Conduct and Accountability Standards;
- improving existing unfair contracts remedies for platform workers; and
- introducing enhanced enforcement to ensure compliance with laws.
The Inquiry recommended that the Federal Government leads the delivery of the recommendations; however, the Victorian Government may also pursue administrative and legislative options if the Federal Government does not act.