Regulation of sharing economy urged to prevent exploitation

Greater regulation of the short-term online jobs market is needed to prevent exploitation of vulnerable workers, leading workplace experts have warned.

Andrew Stewart, a professor of law at the University of Adelaide and Jim Stanford, an economist from the Centre for Future Work at the Australia Institute have presented five possible options to strengthen regulation of what is known as “gig work”. Gig work includes short job contracts obtained through online platforms including Uber and Airtasker.

The options outlined in a paper published in the latest edition of The Economic and Labour Relations Review include clarifying or expanding the legal definition of employment to prevent gig workers falling through the cracks of Fair Work laws.

The paper cites US research which this year reported that 55 per cent of people who earn money through digital platforms earn less than $100 per month and 85 per cent earn less than $500 per month. Australian researchers have also found that the hourly income for part-time ride-sharing workers often falls well below legal minimum wages for employees.

Uber driver Joe Lipszyc, who has been driving for 18 months in Melbourne, said the industry had changed a lot.

“When I started there weren’t as many drivers, obviously the more drivers, the less work we are getting,” he said.

“So it’s not as lucrative as it was before because we are spending a lot of time waiting for jobs.”

Mr Lipszyc said he worked 50 hours a week and earned somewhere between $15 to $30 an hour.

“I do it just as an extra thing … so I wouldn’t say I am going to get rich doing it,” he said.

Uber’s business model is being tested in British courts after a British Employment Tribunal last year found two Uber drivers were entitled to minimum wages, holiday pay and other benefits under employment laws. The decision is under appeal…[click to read the full story]




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