Regulating the Gig Economy: Notes from Australia

This blog regularly covers policy debates related to the gig economy, and our basic message is pretty clear.  The status quo is not working and we must find new ways to support gig and independent workers so they can enjoy the flexibility of independent work without threatening their health, safety, or retirement security.  These pleas seem to be going nowhere here in the US, but I’m encouraged to see that the new Australian government, under Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, is trying to address these issues via the Labor Government’s Secure Australian Jobs Plan.  At present, the debate is quite heated, with some government officials referring to gig economy jobs as a “cancer” on the economy.

While that type of rhetoric may not be conducive to reasoned debate, the Australians are seeking to find a more secure and stable middle ground.  Big players like Uber and Deliveroo are actively negotiating with both trade unions and the government, and some of them already provide insurance and other benefits.  But, many problems still remain.  A July 2022 study, Gig Cities, found that both workers and customers are “fed up” with the gig economy and its impact on urban life.

It’s not yet clear how this debate will pan out, but experts expect that some minimum standards for pay and benefits will be established in the near future. New reporting rules for platform companies are also consideration.  This will likely spark some heated policy debates, and may hopefully offer some insights and ideas that we can apply here at home.