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Media release | Annual WIRO Summit examines workers in the gig economy

The NSW Independent Review Officer for Workers Compensation has told the Annual WIRO Summit that the gig economy has the potential to leave workers engaged through online platforms, without crucial workers compensation protections. 

Kim Garling has told 900 workers compensation professionals attending the annual WIRO Summit in Darling Harbour that the most vulnerable and lowest paid workers may be exposed.

“These are the cleaners, drivers, painters and lawn-mowers that are engaged through online agencies and usually for short-term contracts,” said Garling.

Garling said that a recent decision by the Fair Work Commission Australia that found an Uber driver was not an employee, within the meaning of the Act, was cause for concern.

Fair Work Commission Deputy President Gostencnik concluded in Kaseris v Rasier Pacificon 21 December 2017 that:

Perhaps the law of employment will evolve to catch pace with the evolving nature of the digital economy… Perhaps the legislature will develop laws to refine traditional notions of employment or broaden protection to participants in the digital economy. But until then, the traditional available tests of employment will continue to apply.

Garling said that the rapid growth of the gig economy and the rise of companies like Uber, Airtasker and a plethora of other online worker agencies, had caught everyone by surprise.

“There was no way to predict how rapidly the employment landscape would change, however right now is the time to address gaps in worker protections,” he said. 

Garling said that he would encourage the state’s nominal insurer icare and SIRA, the regulator to work together to quickly develop new packages to protect gig workers.

The Workers Compensation Independent Review Office has assisted 80,000 people since it was set up 5 years ago to assist injured workers, their employers and insurers.

WIRO statutory functions include advising the NSW Government on ways to ensure the best system is in place for a fair and just compensation scheme for injured workers.

Contact

Mr Kim Garling M: 0419 785 799 or

Jennifer Havilah 0421 829 913