THE GIG ECONOMY AND EMPLOYEE RIGHTS

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The Gig Economy is quickly becoming an easy way to make money with the flexibility that is unavailable with traditional occupations. However, working for businesses that offer roles akin to temporary positions comes with repercussions that are only now being seen in the legal sphere. In recent months there have been cases presented to the Fair Work Commission relating to the treatment of employees that have roles with Uber, Deliveroo and similar services that are a part of the Gig Economy. In the recent cases involving Uber, it has been decided by the Fair Work Commission that those working for Uber are not considered employees, but rather independent contractors.

But what does this mean for you if you work for one of these businesses. Currently, there are a number of grey areas due to whether an individual is considered an employee or an independent contractor. An independent contractor is not easily defined, with many characteristics that separate an independent contractor from an employee. Essentially though, independent contractors have high control over their work, decide the hours they work, usually are engaged for a specific task, have an ABN and submit an invoice for work completed or are paid at the completion of their contract. Whereas employees have the opposite of the above mentioned characteristics.[1] It is crucial to understand that if you are an independent contractor you also have different rights to that of an employee. Independent contractors have minimum entitlements, they are not eligible to accrue leave, a minimum wage and notice of termination, unless they are included in an employment contract. It is important to consider these things before becoming contracting with businesses that are a part of the Gig Economy.

It will be interesting to consider the outcome of the current case before the Fair Work Commission involving Deliveroo, as this could set a trend as to whether individuals that work in the Gig Economy are considered employees or independent contractors.

If this article has raised any concerns for you or your organisation please do not hesitate to contact either John Hayward or Jessika Reghenzani on (07) 4046 1124, for advice specific to your circumstances. 

This article has been prepared with the assistance of Ruby Hedrick, law graduate at WGC. 


[1] https://www.fairwork.gov.au/how-we-will-help/templates-and-guides/fact-sheets/rights-and-obligations/independent-contractors-and-employees

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