1st Edition

Regulating Gig Work Decent Labour Standards in a World of On-demand Work

    Digital revolution demands new approaches to regulating work. The ‘Uberisation’ of work is not, in reality, a new phenomenon. It reintroduces the practices of ‘on-demand’ engagement of labour, common prior to the development of continuing employment. What is new, however, is the capacity of digital technology to engage labour in ways that avoid characterisation as employment according to the legal tests developed in the 20th century.

    This book tackles the challenge of ensuring that the emerging tribes of ‘gig’ workers in labour markets across the globe are afforded decent standards of work. This book discusses how to provide decent conditions and safe working standards for on-demand workers engaged through digital platforms. It interrogates the rise of gig work, and the legal strategies that might be engaged to deal with the risk that on-demand work will fall and remain outside of employment protections. It draws on observations of practices across the globe but focusses particularly on regulatory solutions developed in Australia.

    The book will be a useful reference to policy making and legal reforms to address vulnerabilities of gig workers.

    Preface viii

    1 Context and history 1

    Introduction 1

    Common features of platform-mediated work 3

    Labour law avoidance 4

    ‘Employment’ 5

    Algorithmic control 8

    ‘Multi-apping’ 10

    Regulating for safe, fair, and dignified work 12

    2 A global perspective 16

    Introduction 16

    Could development of further ILO standards promote gig worker rights? 17

    OECD 20

    The centrality of domestic regulation 20

    Europe 21

    European Union 21

    Employment status under the proposed EU Directive 21

    Regulation of algorithmic management 23

    Dispute resolution and enforcement 23

    Individual European countries 24

    United Kingdom 25

    United States 26

    New Zealand 27

    Conclusion 28

    3 Overview of workers’ essential needs and forms of legal protection 29

    Introduction 29

    ‘Deeming’ provisions 32

    ‘Third way’ statutory definitions 35

    Special regulatory schemes for contractors 38

    New South Wales industrial laws 39

    Operation of the Chapter 6 regime 40

    Victorian owner driver scheme 41

    Western Australian owner driver scheme 42

    Queensland 43

    Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal 45

    Franchising code of conduct 46

    Unfair contracts review 49

    Conclusion 50

    4 Pay and safety 51

    Introduction 51

    Why substantive labour standards should apply to gig workers 52

    Gig workers’ experience of low pay and poor safety 53

    Pay and safety link evident in gig work 56

    The current regulation and its shortcomings 57

    WHS laws 57

    Workers’ compensation 58

    The appropriate methods of producing a socially beneficial remuneration standard 60

    Proposed Reforms 62

    Conclusion 64

    5 Procedural rights: Freedom of association and job security standards 65

    Introduction 65

    The function and benefits of collective bargaining 66

    Why gig workers deserve collective bargaining rights 67

    Establishing collective bargaining for gig workers – possibilities and obstacles 67

    Realising substantive collective bargaining rights for gig workers 70

    Protection of job security 70

    Dispute resolution 73

    Conclusion 76

    6 Exclusion from jurisdiction as a regulatory strategy 78

    Introduction 78

    Rideshare as a ‘disruptor’ 78

    Bans across the globe 79

    United States 80

    Europe 80

    United Kingdom 81

    Scandinavia 82

    India 82

    Other countries 82

    Bans in historical context: Previous restrictions on the free flow of capital 82

    Digital labour platform responses to bans 84

    The cloud of words 84

    Enter markets and keep operating: Business as usual despite bans 85

    Using violence against rideshare drivers to gain support 86

    The emergency ‘kill’ switch 86

    Big spending on lobbying 87

    Overall effectiveness of the bans 87

    ‘Regulatory entrepreneurship’ business model and bans 90

    Beyond law – compliance measures to combat disruption and improve bans policy 91

    Conclusion 92

    7 Organisational forms to enhance worker control and ownership 94

    Democracy at work for platform workers 94

    Worker participation in corporations 96

    Cooperative enterprises 97

    RideAustin – the not-for-profit 97

    ATX – taxi driver cooperative 99

    Governance of cooperatives 99

    Worker ownership trusts 101

    Conclusion 102

    8 Concluding thoughts 104

    Regulating on-demand work, everywhere 104

    Beyond ‘employment’ 105

    Future-proofing labour regulation 106

    Supervision 107

    Bibliography 109

    Index 121


    Michael Rawling, University of Technology Sydney, Faculty of Law.

    Joellen Riley Munton, University of Technology Sydney, Faculty of Law, and Professor Emerita, The University of Sydney.