Labor makes play for casual workers’ votes with job security reforms
Labor makes play for casual workers’ votes with job security reforms

Labor offers casual workers annual and sick leave

Labor's is poised for a fight with big business under a plan to give rideshare and delivery workers annual leave, and force employers to offer long-term casuals a permanent contract.

Federal Opposition leader Anthony Albanese will today (WED) unveil Labor's "Secure Australian Jobs Plan," which includes a suite of industrial relations reforms aimed at boosting casual workers' rights.

In a speech in Brisbane on Tuesday night, Mr Albanese will confirm Labor's plan to place a 24-month cap on how long employers can roll casuals onto new contracts, and a crackdown on "cowboy labour hire" firms where people are paid less for doing the same role.

Labor leader Anthony Albanese will unveil his industrial relations reforms during his trip to Queensland on Wednesday. Photographer: Liam Kidston.
Labor leader Anthony Albanese will unveil his industrial relations reforms during his trip to Queensland on Wednesday. Photographer: Liam Kidston.

Mr Albanese will argue current industrial relations laws do not properly cover the "gig economy" leaving employees at Deliveroo, Uber, Airtasker and other platforms without fair leave entitlements or security.

"Beneath the surface we are seeing a depressingly familiar picture, workers scrambling for insecure jobs and agreeing to below minimum wage rates to perform work that's paid by the piece," he will say.

"Because of the way the gig economy is being structured, workers are being denied basic rights such as award benefits, superannuation, the right to collectively bargain and access to unfair dismissal protections."

Uber Eats and other ‘gig economy’ workers would get annual leave and sick pay under Labor’s proposal.
Uber Eats and other ‘gig economy’ workers would get annual leave and sick pay under Labor’s proposal.

Mr Albanese will say it's time for a "national approach" and commit Labor to working with state and territory governments, unions and business to develop "portable entitlements" for Australians in the gig economy.

"Amid the darkest days of the pandemic, one of the most confronting revelations was how many workers - casuals, contractors, gig workers - had no right at all to paid sick leave," he will say.

"This is about supporting innovation and change in the economy, while looking after the workers whose sacrifices make that creativity and dynamism possible."

The move will likely be heavily resisted by business, following a decision from the Fair Work Ombudsman in 2019 which fund Uber drivers were independent contractors and therefor not entitled to the minimum wage, sick or annual leave.

 

Labor wants all gig economy workers to benefit. Picture: Damian Hofman
Labor wants all gig economy workers to benefit. Picture: Damian Hofman

 

Mr Albanese will also announce Labor plans to limit the number of consecutive fixed term contracts an employer can offer for the same role to 24 months or no more than two contracts.

"Once that limit is reached, the employer will be required to offer a permanent position - either part time or full time," he will say.

Writing for The Daily Telegraph on Wednesday, Mr Albanese will further outline his vision, explaining how technological change has "altered work patterns" and the "creeping hand of casualisation" is denying millions of Australians job security.

"Having a good, secure job means you can qualify for a home loan, raise a family and set your path to a good life and a comfortable retirement," he said.

Originally published as Plan to force Uber, AirTasker to pay sick leave


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