Vulnerable workers could be protected under expansion of Work Cover


TENS of thousands of “vulnerable” workers in the gig economy could be protected under WorkCover, as the Palaszczuk Government considers expanding the system.

But the taxi industry is fighting hard against any possible changes that would extend protections to its drivers, saying most would get less protection under WorkCover.

The Office of Industrial Relations has released a consultation paper with possible changes to the system, which pays for rehabilitation and compensation for injured workers, saying it has failed to keep pace with the “modern realities of non-traditional forms of work”.

The gig economy includes any workers engaged in short-term paid tasks rather than regular long-term, ongoing employment with jobs such as food delivery drivers, writers, photographers, labourers and software developers.

Some of the proposed changes would force intermediaries, such as Uber that connect customers and workers, to pay $1.7 for every $100 of wages to protect workers injured on the job.

The Government estimates there could be up to 25,000 workers in Queensland’s gig economy and the total cost to intermediaries could be up to $17 million.

An Uber spokeswoman said the company welcomed the consultation.

However, the spokeswoman warned that the proposed reform would be complex as it would have to take into account the differences between “traditional employment and platform-based work”.

Taxi Council Queensland chief executive Blair Davies said about 95 per cent of the industry was already protected under privately purchased personal accident insurance schemes that offered more comprehensive protection that WorkCover.