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Proposed regulation of gig economy may lead to better safety outcomes

The Federal Government will this week introduce the Secure Jobs Better Pay Bill 2022, which will make significant changes to the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) (FW Act), including introducing changes to the regulation of the gig economy that may impact on safety.

The gig economy has come under the spotlight for safety reasons in recent times, following several tragic deaths of delivery workers. Some regulators investigating the safety of delivery workers found that nine out of 10 riders were not wearing high-vis safety clothing and almost half were riding in an unsafe manner.

These incidents prompted changes to the laws in some state and territory jurisdictions, including the introduction of a regulation in NSW effective 1 July 2022 that requires a food delivery booking provider to supply high-vis PPE to a food delivery rider engaged by the provider unless the rider is able to use PPE supplied by another food delivery booking provider (learn more here).

At the Federal level, riders who operate their own business are not entitled to the wages and benefits of employees. This situation can lead to an environment where riders work unsafely in order to make more money. These risks may be addressed, in part, by proposed changes under the Secure Jobs Better Pay Bill 2022 to:

  • amend the FW Act to make job security an object of the FW Act; and
  • empower the Fair Work Commission to set wages and conditions for ‘employee-like’ workers, such as delivery riders.

These new laws will supplement advice given by safety regulators for this industry, such as SafeWork NSW’s A guide to managing work health and safety in the food delivery industry.

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