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The gigification of care is creating insecure work, undermining gender inequality and damaging workforce sustainability.
Current work and care arrangements in Australia contribute to economic and social disadvantage for carers, the vast majority of whom are women. Patterns of labour force participation and employment provide clear indicators of the inequities inherent in Australia’s current care and work arrangements. These patterns show we do not have equitably shared care arrangements, nor equitable employment opportunities and outcomes for women. Australia requires much stronger support systems, more effective work and care policies and more secure and fairly-paid jobs to address these problems.
In 2021 the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety recommended that gig work, independent contracting and other ‘indirect’ employment arrangements be restricted in the publicly-funded aged care sector.
Workers in most industries and occupations worry about the effects of accelerating technological change on their employment security and prospects. New digital technologies are being applied to an increasingly diverse and complex array of tasks and jobs – including artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies which can exercise judgment and decision-making powers. Some studies suggest that as many as half of all jobs may be highly vulnerable to automation and computerisation in coming decades. The NSW Legislative Council has established a Select Committee to examine the impact of technological and other change on the future of work in NSW. The Centre for Future Work has lodged a submission.
What’s a ‘gig’ job, anyway? There’s lots of media hype about how people won’t have jobs in the future (they’re so old-fashioned). Instead they’ll work a never-ending series of gigs. Will they love the supposed ‘freedom’ and ‘flexibility’? Or will they yearn for the good old days when a job provided regular hours … and a regular paycheque?
Uber’s rapid growth in point-to-point transportation services has become the most potent symbol of the growth of the so-called “gig economy”: where people perform work on an irregular, on-demand basis, paid by the task, and without the stability or security of traditional paid employment. The expansion of this model has raised concerns regarding the erosion of labour standards and entitlements (including minimum wages, paid leave, and superannuation). This report simulates the net hourly incomes received by UberX drivers in six Australian cities, and finds that they almost certainly earn much less than would be required under relevant minimum wage standards.
The informal work practices of the so-called “gig” economy are widening existing cracks in Australia’s system of labour regulations, and should be repaired through active measures to strengthen labour standards in digital businesses. That is the conclusion of newly-published research from a special symposium on “Work in the Gig Economy,” organised by the Centre for Future Work.