Labour hire workers can no longer be paid less than employees doing the same job in their workplaces as a result of industrial reforms passed by Parliament. However, other important reforms to close loopholes in employment laws and stop exploitation of workers and avoidance of standards won’t be voted on in Parliament until next year.
The Workplace Relations Minister Tony Burke has described proposed new laws to regulate digital platform work as building a ramp with employees at the top, independent contractors at the bottom, and gig platform workers halfway up. The new laws will allow the Fair Work Commission to set minimum standards for ‘employee-like workers’ on digital platforms.
In recent years, workers have been held back from demanding better working conditions and pay by a lack of bargaining power.
Proposed reforms to Commonwealth industrial relations laws would create more opportunities for collective bargaining to occur on a multi-employer basis, rather than being limited solely to individual workplaces or enterprises. Business groups have attacked this proposal as a dramatic change that would supposedly spark widespread work stoppages and industrial chaos.
There is growing understanding that care work — including jobs in aged care, disability services, early child education and care, and others — is of growing importance to future employment and wage trends, as well as to the quality of life of Australians who depend on these social and community services. For too long, jobs in these growing sectors have been devalued. Government underfunding and weak labour and quality standards have reinforced the degradation of work in care sectors. But with intense labour shortages, public concern about inadequate quality, and the need to expand services to meet social needs, there is now more widespread recognition that care jobs must be improved, and quickly: with more funding, better training, limits on private delivery, multi-employer bargaining, and more.