Mandating protections for gig workers would be a good thing says TCQ

Media release
19 June, 2019 

Queensland’s peak taxi body welcomes the State Government’s proposal to step in and mandate Workers Compensation protections for gig workers, including booked-hire drivers in the Personalised Transport sector.

Taxi Council of Queensland (TCQ) says taxi drivers have had access to personal accident insurance for years and the absence of similar protections for booked-hire drivers has left them potentially exposed to some very high costs if they get injured on the job.

TCQ CEO Blair Davies said the vast majority of taxi drivers in Queensland are insured for workplace injuries under Personal Accident (PA) policies that are taken out to cover every driver of the respective taxi.  It doesn’t matter whether the driver owns the cab, holds a lease over the cab, or just bails the cab on a shift by shift basis, they are all covered under the same policy and so have access to exactly the same levels of benefit.

“We estimate about 95 per cent of Queensland taxis have a PA insurance policy that covers everyone who drives the cab from the time they leave home until the time they return home, not just when they are driving the taxi or with a fare paying passenger,” he said.

“In that regard, the PA Insurance policies used by Queensland taxis work much differently to Workers Compensation policies because they cover every driver of the vehicle. TCQ regards PA insurance policies as a more comprehensive solution for protecting drivers in the taxi industry because Workers Compensation policies exclude the many cabbies who own or lease their taxi.

“The industry is seeing more and more drivers moving into owning or leasing their taxi rather than simply bailing the vehicle from someone else on a shift by shift basis. It is a trend that appears to be well established and it means the efficiency of PA insurance policies, when compared to Workers Compensation options, will only increase over time. The PA policies provide an efficient, one-size-fits-all solution for all Queensland cabbies as they serve on the front line of providing essential mobility options for their communities.”

While TCQ believes there is no real need for taxis to change from using the PA insurance policies that the industry has relied upon for years, the status quo cannot be recommended for booked-hire vehicles. Recent research by the University of Queensland and a separate survey commissioned by the Victorian Government has shown that many booked-hire drivers are unsure whether they have any workplace injury insurance.

“Booked-hire drivers are mostly not professional drivers and they just don’t know what they don’t know about insurances that they prudently require to be protected. They clearly need help from the State Government, at least in respect of injuries that booked-hire drivers may sustain while working for their digital platform. In TCQ’s view, it is entirely reasonable and overdue for the Government to step in and mandate Workers Compensation for booked-hire drivers,” Mr Davies concluded.