The Business Council welcomes the opportunity to respond to the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations (Department) regarding the government’s proposed measures to address ‘employee-like’ forms of work and stronger protections for independent contractors. Specifically, this paper responds to the parameters set out in the April 2023 Australian Government ‘Employee-like’ forms of work and stronger protections for independent contractors consultation paper (Consultation Paper).
The government has a rare opportunity for innovative reform for gig workers and independent contractors. To take full advantage of this opportunity, government must work with and listen to the specialist and experienced views of technology (tech) companies and their workers. The BCA has set out in response to the questions at Appendix 1 to this paper, a framework for the regulation of gig work that would be industry appropriate, including a minimum earnings standard (primarily contained in legislation) and the ability for gig workers to raise disputes about the permanent removal from platforms, subject to a simple and clear procedural code and reasonable jurisdictional limits.
Regulation should not be confined by historical models of employment developed over decades which do not sit easily with modern contracting arrangements and give undue weight to the views of stakeholders without significant involvement in the industry. Consultation must include obtaining the views of gig workers themselves. It cannot be reliant on the input of registered organisations whose experience lies with traditional modes of engagement such as heavy vehicle transport and may not be representative of gig workers.
The issues raised in the Consultation Paper are broad and traverse a range of sectors with very different workplace and economic contexts. Accordingly, they should be addressed separately, with different, targeted approaches based on evidence.
It is critical that in seeking to provide fair minimum standards for gig workers, the government does not further restrain Australia’s productivity growth and restrict enterprise innovation by imposing even more restrictive work laws on an already heavily regulated system.