Despite the Albanese government’s description of self-employed ‘gig’ work as a ‘cancer’, a recent government report (interim) says that such work and workers should not be ‘stymied’. We totally agree and have made a supporting submission.
The Productivity Commission is a high-powered federal government economic research think-tank. What it says is important.
In its (interim) report it studies and makes recommendations on the gig/platform economy. It says:
Regulation should evolve to meet the workplace relations challenge of innovative new business models, without stymying their potential contributions to productivity.
This is a heap of common sense. We hope the Albanese government takes note. Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater!!
Our submission makes key points of fact.
There’s no confusion between an employee and a self-employed person:
- An employee earns income through the employment contract.
- A self-employed (independent contractor) person earns income through the commercial contract.
This legal fact is supported by research conducted by the International Labour Organisation and by international standards to which Australia is a signatory. Like the Productivity Commission, the ILO says:
National policy for protection of workers in an employment relationship should not interfere with true civil and commercial relationships…
We say that employment-structured firms are under competitive threat from gig/platforms and self-employed people. These firms are marshalling their well-entrenched political power to stop or limit the competition for power. This explains the ‘third way’ push which is on the Albanese government’s agenda.
The ‘third way’ push is highly dangerous. It has been rejected by the ILO and is causing great harm in the UK, for example. We explain this in our submission.
We also say that self-employed people are entitled to ‘protections’ but through commercial regulation not employment regulation. For example, protections are already available under laws covering unfair contracts, work safety, collective bargaining (under competition rules), minimum rates guarantees and dispute resolution.
But there is urgent need to reform the workers’ compensation schemes, for example, to allow individual self-employed people to register directly with the schemes without being forced into ‘employment’. Currently, self-employed people are banned from workers’ compensation, a glaring discrimination.
We explain these issues and more in our submission.