Recommendations from: First interim report: on-demand platform work in Australia, June 2021
The committee recommends that the Australian Bureau of Statistics expands its Labour Force Survey to capture quarterly estimates in relation to the number of workers engaged in the on-demand platform sector. These estimates could include the industries and occupations in which they work, the hours they work, their visa status, the nature of their working arrangements relative to other workers, earnings and other demographic characteristics.
The committee recommends that the Australian Bureau of Statistics enhances its Work-Related Injuries Survey to capture specific information on the number, and types, of injuries and fatalities for workers engaged in the on‑demand platform sector.
The committee recommends that Safe Work Australia enhances its national data collection process to capture specific information on the number, and types, of injuries and fatalities for workers engaged in the on‑demand platform sector. The committee further recommends that all road crashes involving on-demand workers be officially recognised as workplace incidents and are recorded and investigated as such.
The committee recommends that, as a matter of priority, Safe Work Australia develops meaningful, high-level guidelines on the application of the model Work Health and Safety Laws to the on-demand platform (or 'gig') sector. The guidance should be aimed at addressing practices that incentivise unsafe behaviour, as well as enforcing compliance with safety rules and obligations. The guidance should not seek to unreasonably circumvent the obligations of on-demand companies through novel interpretations of workers as being a 'person conducting a business or undertaking' (PCBU), particularly when such workers in the on-demand sector are engaged in highly dependent or low-leverage work arrangements.
Recommendation 5 (replaced by Recommendation 13 in The job insecurity report)
The committee recommends that the Australian Government urgently clarifies, by way of regulation, which persons or entities owe a duty of care as a person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) under the Model Work Health and Safety laws in relation to individual support workers engaged through on‑demand platforms like Mable. The law should dictate that:
a platform that engages individual workers to provide support work under the NDIS or similar schemes, and makes money from the arrangement, is a PCBU and owes a duty of care to that worker, regardless of that worker's work status (employee or contractor), or their visa status; and that
individual care recipients, such as NDIS participants, are not a PCBU in relation to that worker.
The committee recommends that the Australian Government works with state and territory governments to lead the reform of state-based workers' compensation schemes so that they extend to platform workers, regardless of their visa or work status, and require platform companies to pay workers' compensation premiums for these workers.
Recommendation 7 (replaced by Recommendation 10 in The job insecurity report)
The committee recommends that the Australian Government expands the definitions of 'employment' and 'employee' in the Fair Work Act 2009 to capture new and evolving forms of work. In addition to an expanded definition of 'employment' and 'employee' under the Fair Work Act, there should be a mechanism by which the Fair Work Commission can extend coverage of those rights when necessary to workers falling outside the expanded definition of employment, including low-leveraged and highly dependent workers so they can be provided with standards and protections under the Act.
The Committee recommends that the Australian Government investigates options for a Federal regulator to be empowered to request data from platforms that employ and contract workers, including:
other conditions governing that work; and
other relevant information needed to appropriately monitor safety, competition and labour rights.
Recommendation 9 (replaced by Recommendation 11 in The job insecurity report)
The committee recommends that the Australian Government gives the Fair Work Commission (FWC) broad powers to resolve disputes and make orders for minimum standards and conditions in relation to all forms of work. The expanded remit of the FWC would include:
adjudicating in cases where there is a dispute in relation to the appropriate status of workers;
setting binding minimum standards and conditions in relation to non‑standard forms of work, regardless of employment status; and
the capacity to resolve disputes (including where necessary through binding decisions) in a low-cost and effective manner.
The FWC should be empowered to make determinations and orders for groups and categories of workers, not just individuals.
The committee recommends that the Australian Government empowers the Fair Work Commission (FWC) to provide pathways to permanency via arbitrations for casual conversion. Any disputes with regards to work status, contractual arrangements, or casual conversion should be able to be arbitrated via a low‑cost, accessible process, whether via the FWC or another body, to ensure workers are able to practically enforce their rights, and both workers and employers can have matters adjudicated quickly.
Recommendation 11 (replaced by Recommendation 11 in The job insecurity report)
The committee recommends that the Australian Government provide greater protections for independent contractors who are sole traders by establishing an accessible low-cost national tribunal to advise on, oversee, and make rulings relating to employment relationships involving low‑leveraged independent contractors, such as those in the rideshare and other platform sectors.
The committee recommends that the Joint Standing Committee on the National Disability Insurance Scheme give specific consideration to the following matters related to platform-based work in the disability sector as part of its current inquiry into the NDIS Workforce and its ongoing examination of the operation and performance of the NDIS:
the prevalence of platform-based work in the sector, and the growing and evolving nature of this business model;
the prevalence of independent contracting through platforms;
the characteristics of independent contractors providing support work through platforms like Mable;
the extent to which workers rely on this income, or have other sources of income;
the typical earnings, insurance coverage, superannuation and access to leave and other entitlements available to these workers;
the adequacy of training and support provided to workers;
issues associated with safety, risk, and liability under Work Health and Safety laws; and
issues relating to the potential for NDIS recipients to be classified as persons conducting a business or undertaking (PCBUs) under existing Work Health and Safety laws.
Taking into account the findings of any relevant inquiries, the committee recommends that the Australian Government considers regulatory options that would ensure support workers engaged to provide services funded through the National Disability Insurance Scheme are provided with fair pay and conditions, including those engaged through on‑demand platforms.
The committee recommends that the Australian Government considers working with states and territories to design a national scheme that connects and extends the current state and territory schemes to provide portable long service leave, sick leave and other leave entitlements, and portable training entitlements, to all workers delivering services under the National Disability Insurance Scheme.
The committee recommends that the Australian Government works through the Council on Federal Financial Relations to achieve an intergovernmental agreement that government procurements must require companies engaged by the Federal and state and territory governments to provide minimum standards of pay, safety and insurance, workers' compensation and basic protections for workers.
The committee recommends that the Senate adopt the following resolution:
That the time for the presentation of the final report of the Select Committee on Job Security be extended to the last sitting day in February 2022.
The committee recommends that the Australian Government undertakes an audit of the job security of all workers engaged directly by the Australian Government, or who are working in jobs funded by the Australian Government. This audit should collect data on the type of employment arrangements, and on perceptions of job security held by people engaged in these roles.
The committee recommends that the Australian Government introduces a policy stating that an objective of all public funding for employment, or the provision of goods and services, is to protect and promote secure employment.
The policy should require that all such recipients of Australian Government funding preference the direct, permanent employment of staff, rather than indirect arrangements including outsourced service providers or labour hire firms or temporary arrangements including casual or fixed-term employment, wherever practical.
The policy should recognise there is a legitimate role for contracting and subcontracting arrangements in the Australian Government's supply chain, but that workers engaged under these arrangements are entitled to pay and conditions no less than an employee would receive for the same job.
The policy should apply to funding provided to the Australian Public Service, Government Business Enterprises, and private organisations including but not limited to aged and disability care providers, universities, construction firms and service providers engaged to deliver public infrastructure projects such as the National Broadband Network.
The policy should require the Australian Government's procurement framework to prioritise firms that favour a permanent, directly-engaged workforce, and to consider the economic and social benefits of tenders.
The policy should also require the Australian Government to ensure that the funding for projects, goods and services is sufficient to enable the organisation to hire its workforce in permanent, secure employment on rates at least compliant with the relevant Award and a living wage.
The committee recommends that the Australian Government conducts the Aged Care Workforce Census in 2021/2022, to ensure that this critical data is available for policy development. The survey should be distributed to labour hire, agency, on‑demand platform and self-employed aged care workers, as well as directly‑employed workers.
Along with the data collected in previous surveys, the survey should include:
questions on contracted hours;
questions on actual hours worked;
questions on salary and/or wages earned;
questions on multiple job holding, and working across multiple sites, and individuals' motivations for these; and
diversity of the aged care workforce, including with respect to gender, cultural diversity, and visa status.
The committee recommends that the Australian Government includes labour hire, on-demand platforms and staffing agencies that provide workers to the aged care sector in future Aged Care Workforce Censuses, and distribute a specific census survey to these companies in 2021/2022 to capture this data.
The committee recommends that the Australian Government redesigns the single‑site policy and Commonwealth grant to aged care providers so that they incentivise providers to offer ongoing full-time, and higher-hour part‑time, positions to aged care workers—rather than the current temporary support.
The committee recommends that the Australian Government commits to fully funding two weeks of paid pandemic leave, and up to three days of vaccination‑related leave, for all workers in the aged care sector, regardless of their role or employment contract.
The committee recommends that the Australian Government arranges in‑reach vaccination for all aged care workers who remain unvaccinated, as a priority, and ensure future vaccination programs (such as for booster shots) are conducted via in-reach programs.
The committee recommends the Australian Government urgently responds to and supports the Aged Care Industry work value case lodged in the Fair Work Commission by the Health Services Union and the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation, to ensure that wages fairly reflect the work value provided by aged care workers.
The committee recommends that, as part of the Star Rating system, and any other relevant assessment or grading system, the Australian Government requires aged care providers to report on, not just their staffing levels, but also:
the proportion of staff in direct, permanent employment arrangements;
the staffing classification mix;
hours of paid training provided to staff; and
The committee recommends that the Australian Government requires, as an ongoing condition of holding an approval to provide aged care services, that aged care providers report on:
the proportion of staff that are full-time, part-time, casual, on-demand platform and agency/labour hire workers;
the number of contracted staff hours and rostered staff hours;
the staffing classification mix;
the proportion of spending on frontline staffing and employment costs, other operational expenses, profits and surpluses, and other key indices; and
non-minimisation and non-avoidance of Australian tax laws.
The committee recommends the Australian Government develops an aged care provider procurement policy that actively promotes job security in the sector, recognises the benefits of secure, on‑going permanent employment to the delivery of safe, high-quality aged care, and specifies that the establishment of secure, direct, and fair-paid jobs is a key criterion of aged care investment.
The committee recommends that the Australian Government adopts and extends Recommendation 87 of the Aged Care Royal Commission, requiring as a condition of holding an approval to provide aged care services that aged care providers have policies and procedures that preference the direct employment of all aged care workers. Aged care providers should be required to ensure all work, including through indirect work arrangements such as on-demand platforms, is paid in accordance with the relevant award, and this should also be enforced by the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission and relevant unions.
The committee recommends that, in accordance with Recommendation 85 of the Aged Care Royal Commission, the Australian Government ensures that increasing remuneration to support attraction and retention of employees is an explicit objective of all pricing authorities in the care sector.
The committee recommends that the Australian Government implements a minimum staff time standard for residential aged care adequate to ensure high quality and support maximised hours rostering of staff.
The committee recommends the Australian Government requires that all aged care providers in receipt of public funding are domiciled in Australia for tax purposes, and do not engage in tax minimisation or avoidance.
The committee recommends the Australian Government considers a sector wide facilitated agreement making scheme to support fair wages and secure employment conditions, recognising the unique dynamics of the care sectors. The Fair Work Commission should be provided with the power to require the participation of relevant government/s as the economic employer/s in the sector.
The committee recommends the Australian Government works with unions, service providers and employers to amend relevant Awards to ensure the widespread practice of low minimum-hours part-time contracts is restricted, including consideration of:
specifying a minimum number of part-time hours that can be included in standard contracts;
requiring employers to pay over-time rates for hours worked over and above contracted hours;
including automatic mechanisms for review—for instance, if after six months an employee is consistently working above contracted hours, they should be offered the opportunity for the contract to be amended to reflect the actual hours worked; and
employees consistently working over 35 hours per week for 12 months or longer—regardless of the pattern of hours—should be offered full-time employment.
The committee also recommends that these provisions should be easily enforceable and include anti-avoidance mechanisms.
The committee recommends the Australian Government directs pricing authorities in the care sectors to consider all genuine costs required to provide high quality care when determining pricing, including wages and conditions that will attract and retain a skilled workforce, best practice skill mix, and paid training hours.
The committee recommends the Australian Government strengthen the powers of the Fair Work Commission so that it may order pay increases for workers to rectify gender-based undervaluation; including establishing a statutory Equal Remuneration Principle. For example, guiding principles making it clear that a male comparator is not required to assess whether workers in an industry are receiving equal pay for work of equal or comparable value.
The committee recommends that the Australian Government urgently develops a new National Higher Education Funding Strategy for the period 2021–2025. The new strategy should recognise and address:
the real cost of delivering high quality tertiary education including administration, marking, and ensuring staff and student wellbeing;
the role of research as a core university function;
increasing casualisation in university workforces;
revenue stabilisation and diversification, particularly with regard to the shift in international student enrolments;
the role for government in mandating and enforcing secure and fair employment practices in tertiary education; and
the need for an increase in government funding to the sector.
The committee recommends that the Australian Government provides temporary additional annual funding universities to restore jobs and rectify the damage inflicted upon the sector as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and funding cuts, until the new Higher Education Strategy has been developed and implemented.
The committee recommends that the Australian Government Department of Education, Skills and Employment works closely with universities, workers, experts, the National Tertiary Education Union, and relevant sector bodies, to design a system of casual and fixed-term conversion that would be appropriate for the higher education sector.
This system should include sector-appropriate definitions of casual and fixed-term work, and limit the use of casual and fixed-term employment to genuinely non‑ongoing work.
The committee recommends that the Australian Government requires all universities to provide a more detailed report of their staffing composition to the Department of Education, Skills and Employment, including:
annualised data on permanent, fixed-term and casual staff in terms of both headcounts and full-time equivalents;
annualised data on the use of labour hire and other external contractors; and
annualised detailed data around gender, cultural diversity, age, earnings, length of service and retention rates for casual staff, and compared with permanent staff.
The committee recommends that the Australian Government requires, as a condition of receiving public funding, universities to set publicly-available targets for increasing permanent employment, and reducing casualisation, and report their progress against these targets on an annual basis. The targets should be established in consultation with industry experts, workers and the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU).
The Department of Education, Skills and Employment should review the impact of this measure after three years, and—if it has not been effective in reducing the level of casualisation—the Australian Government should then work with universities and the NTEU to impose meaningful but achievable funding-linked targets.
The committee recommends, in light of the widespread wage theft in the Australian Government-funded higher education sector, that the government legislates improved rights of entry for all registered trade unions. These rights should include a right to inspect the records of both current and former employees, a right to enter a site without providing 24 hours' notice, and the removal of restrictions on trade unions accessing non-member records directly.
The committee recommends that the Australian Government offers permanent employment opportunities to all long-term casual employees currently performing roles which relate to ongoing stable work.
The committee recommends that the Australian Government eliminates the utilisation of long-term casual employment across the Australian Public Service for roles which are not irregular or intermittent in nature, unless genuinely preferred by the employee.
The committee recommends that the Australian Government:
removes the average staffing level cap;
identifies skill gaps that have led to the regular engagement of external workers, and develops plans to eliminate these gaps and build in-house capabilities;
internalises work of an ongoing and regular nature which is currently undertaken by contractors and consultants, including labour hire;
encourages the transfer of skills and knowledge from external workers to internal Australian Public Service employees; and
places an upper limit on the expenditure on consultants and contractors, and utilises savings to increase the capability and capacity of the Australian Public Service.
The committee recommends that the Australian Government introduces an APS‑wide policy requiring all departments, agencies and Government Business Enterprises (GBEs) to directly employ staff in all circumstances other than where the work is genuinely short-term and not ongoing in nature. Where this exception is used, the department, agency or GBE should be required to identify the duration of the engagement, and the approximate additional cost that will be incurred by engaging a third party provider.
The committee recommends that the Australian Government requires:
the Australian Public Service Commission to collect and publish agency and service-wide data on the Government's utilisation of contractors, consultants, and labour hire workers;
the Department of Finance to regularly collect and publish service-wide expenditure data on contractors, consultants, and labour hire workers, including the cost differential between direct employment and external employment; and
labour-hire firms to disclose disaggregated pay rates and employee conditions.
The committee recommends that the Australian Government finalises the regulatory and funding model for the national system for domestic commercial vessel safety. This will allow the Australian Maritime Safety Authority to determine its staffing model and offer enhanced job security to its workers.
The committee recommends that the Australian Maritime Safety Authority immediately offers permanent employment opportunities to all long‑term labour-hire workers within the AMSA Connect call centre.
The committee recommends that the Australian Government enhances the Commonwealth Procurement Rules by introducing a social procurement framework. Such a framework would aim to leverage the significant procurement activities of the Government to achieve positive social, economic, and environmental outcomes for the benefit the Australian community.
The committee recommends that the Australian Government introduces a supplier code of conduct which would, amongst other things, provide minimum expectations around:
job security and the utilisation of local workforces;
occupational health and safety;
transparency, non-minimisation and non-avoidance of tax obligations.
The committee recommends that the Australian Government requires that entities engaged to deliver goods and services provide a demonstrable, and independently verified, track record of compliance with workplace laws, including Workplace Gender Equality Act reporting obligations. Such disclosures would also incorporate relevant subcontractors that these providers may utilise.
The committee recommends that the Australian Government eliminates the technical capability gap resulting from an over‑reliance on the use of external contractors and ensures that the Australian Public Service (APS) becomes a digital leader. In doing so, the committee suggests the Government:
commits to ongoing investment in information and communication technology (ICT) systems, staff, and skills;
improves the standard of ICT systems to that of leading private sector companies;
builds the expertise and knowledge of the APS to develop and deliver ICT solutions; and
makes the APS an employer of choice for ICT and digital professionals by developing career pathways, learning and development programs, appropriate classifications, and competitive remuneration packages.
The committee recommends that the Australian Government amends the NBN Co Ministerial Statement of Expectations to explicitly state that NBN Co is responsible for conditions of work, exploitation and corruption that occurs in its supply chain, including for subcontractors engaged by Delivery Partners or Prime Contractors. NBN Co should be directed to prepare and publish a plan for how NBN Co will safeguard, monitor and enforce sustainable rates of pay and fair working conditions for NBN technicians.
The committee also recommends that the number of vertical subcontracting arrangements be limited to enhance transparency and accountability, to reduce the inefficient outlay of taxpayer funds and wage suppression that result when too many layers of subcontracting are in the delivery chain, and to promote secure ongoing direct employment by Delivery Partners as the preferred model of workforce engagement.
Recommendations from: Third interim report: labour hire and contracting
The committee recommends that the Australian Government amends the Fair Work Act 2009 to ensure that the wages and conditions of labour hire workers are at least equivalent to those that would apply had these workers been directly employed by their host entities.
The committee recommends that the Australian Government immediately introduces a comprehensive national labour hire licensing scheme covering all business sectors, and requiring mandatory registration and continuous compliance with all legal obligations. It is recommended that significant penalties apply for those entities which continue to operate without being registered, and for those organisations which engage the workers of such unregistered operators.
The committee recommends that the Australian Bureau of Statistics enhances its labour hire data collection techniques for labour hire operators, labour hire workers, and host entities which engage their services, with the aim of better determining the prevalence, and scope, of this form of workforce arrangement in Australia.
The committee recommends that the Australian Government enhances its monitoring and compliance activities of labour hire operators to ensure that they are compliant with all their legal obligations. It is envisaged that such an approach would promote collaboration with unions, data-sharing amongst government entities, and utilise joint investigations, as required.
The committee recommends that the Australian Government investigates whether labour hire workers are more reluctant to raise safety concerns due to fears of reprisal from their employer and/or host and, if this is found to be the case:
develop effective methods for the Fair Work Ombudsman to safeguard these workers from such reprisals, and to promote their capacity to promptly raise workplace health and safety concerns with both their host organisations and their labour hire operators; and
improve the general protections provisions of the Fair Work Act 2009 to ensure labour hire workers are effectively protected when speaking out.
The committee recommends that the Australian Government requires mining operators to conduct local labour market testing prior to engaging fly‑in‑fly‑out and drive‑in‑drive out workforces.
The committee recommends that the Australian Government requires mining operators to meet best-practice in managing the physical and mental health and safety of their fly‑in‑fly‑out and drive-in-drive-out workforces.
The committee recommends that the Australian Government commissions comprehensive contemporary research into the economic and health impacts resulting from mining operators utilising fly‑in‑fly‑out and drive‑in‑drive‑out workforces. Amongst other things, such research would assess the impacts on:
demand for services delivered by local governments;
the ability of local governments to raise revenues through taxation;
small and medium businesses located in towns located close to mine sites; and
the physical and mental health of workers and their families.
The committee recommends that the Australian Government commissions comprehensive research to determine the specific impacts of insecure employment on workers in the mining industry, with a focus on determining its effects on their ability to secure home loans; and on decisions such as place of residence, schooling, and major purchases; and their mental health.
The committee recommends that the Australian Government works with unions and experts to build upon the minor improvements to worker protections introduced through the Pacific Labour Scheme and Seasonal Worker Program, to introduce superior protections for these workers, and for workers arriving through the Australian Agricultural Visa.
The committee recommends that the Australian Government consults with unions to identify how right of entry laws can be improved to deliver better protections for workers, particularly in industries identified as high-risk for exploitation and wage theft by the Fair Work Ombudsman, such as in horticulture, higher education, and meat processing.
The committee recommends that the Australian Government works closely with, and provides additional funding for, the Fair Work Ombudsman to:
enhance the provision of translating and interpreting services for migrant workers seeking information or lodging a complaint;
expedite the investigation of complaints and enforcement of industry awards in the horticultural and meat processing industries; and
work collaboratively with unions to ensure migrant workers are made aware of their legal entitlements, and have access to a union. Relevant unions should also be provided with a greater proactive auditing role.
The committee recommends that the Australian Government implements protections which ensure that migrant workers’ personal information is not disclosed by the Fair Work Ombudsman to immigration authorities (including the Department of Home Affairs).
The committee recommends that the Australian Government imposes significant penalties for employers who demonstrate a pattern of non‑compliance with their statutory employment obligations, including criminalising wage theft.
The committee recommends that the Australian Government implements an efficient, accessible, and inexpensive mechanism for workers to promptly recover all unpaid wages and superannuation to which they are entitled.
The committee recognises the merit of an independent body with the power to make and enforce binding standards on aviation supply chain participants, including airports and their central role. Those standards include 'same job, same pay' for outsourced and labour hire workers performing functions directly connected to aviation operations, job security protections, and fair procurement standards. The committee recommends the Australian Government consults with industry participants, including unions, employers, and other stakeholders on the development of this body.
The committee recommends the Australian Government imposes obligations upon companies in receipt of future public bailouts, which prioritise job security and guarantee that companies cannot follow Qantas’ lead, and exploit emergencies to engage in illegal workforce restructuring.
The committee recommends the Australian Government works with the Transport Workers' Union, the transport industry, and relevant stakeholders to establish an independent body, such as a National Transport Tribunal, which would:
review and set minimum standards for safety, pay and conditions for all operators and workers including contractors in the transport sector;
ensure minimum standards are enforceable on all supply chain and contracting parties, including by providing an effective enforcement regime and penalties for infringements;
adjudicate transport contract network disputes, including in relation to the unfair termination of engagements; and
defend the rights of all workers, including contractors, to join and be represented by their union and facilitate collective bargaining.
Recommendations from: The job insecurity report
The committee recommends that the Senate adopt the following resolution:
That the time for the presentation of the final report of the Select Committee on Job Security be extended to 30 March 2022, so that the committee may inquire into possible privilege matters, including to:
investigate allegations raised in relation to the treatment of seasonal workers who gave evidence at the committee's public hearing on 2 February 2022;
ascertain the facts in the matter; and
report any findings to the Senate.
The committee recommends that the Australian Government provides funding and support to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) to enable the ABS to reconcile information from the Characteristics of Employment, Labour Account, and Jobs in Australia releases in order to provide clearer and more coherent information on labour hire employment in Australia.
The revised labour hire information should be published on the ABS website and include:
data reconciling the number of people who are registered with a labour hire firm or employment agency with industry level estimates of people employed directly by those businesses; and
data and graphs/tables showing changes in labour hire employment over time.
The committee recommends that the Australian Government reviews the Model WHS Laws and associated Regulations to provide a greater emphasis on supporting workers' psychological safety in the workplace, and include 'job insecurity' as a workplace hazard in the appropriate laws and regulations.
The committee recommends that the Australian Government provides ongoing support and funding to MATES in Construction, and similar evidence-based, industry-focused suicide prevention and mental health and well-being programs—especially in industries where non-standard work arrangements are common, and those heavily-impacted by the pandemic, such as health, aged and disability care, hospitality, retail, the arts and tourism.
The committee recommends that the Australian Government commits to providing an adequate financial and social safety net for all, including by:
ensuring that the JobSeeker payment is sufficient to help unemployed Australians focus on upskilling or obtaining employment;
ensuring that the industries and cohorts most impacted by COVID-19 receive financial and other supports to rebuild and recover; and
by focussing government funding and policy efforts towards initiatives that address the impacts of the pandemic on mental health and well being.
The committee recommends that the Australian Government urgently assesses the performance of the Fair Work Amendment (Supporting Australia's Jobs and Economic Recovery) Act 2021. As the data collected through this inquiry suggests, the amendment has not had a positive impact on job security, and it should be repealed and replaced with a new statutory definition of casual employment that reflects the true nature of the employment relationship―rather than a definition which relies upon the employer's description of the relationship in an employment contract―and a new casual conversion provision.
The committee recommends that the Australian Government undertakes a review of the current portable leave schemes operating in Australia, and examines where such schemes could be extended to workers in other industries. This should be done in consultation with employer and employee groups, and state and territory governments.
The committee recommends that the Australian Government provides encouragement and incentives for businesses to hire permanent staff instead of casuals through investigating the use of:
education campaigns around the benefits of ongoing employment for businesses and employers;
training and employment subsidies with secure, ongoing employment requirements attached to the funding;
increasing reporting requirements for publicly-listed companies in relation to work status, pay and conditions; and
introducing a procurement framework to prioritise firms that favour a permanent, directly engaged workforce.
The committee recommends that the Australian Government provides increased resources for the Fair Work Ombudsman, unions and employer associations to provide tripartite support and education to small businesses about their regulatory obligations―and their employees about their industrial rights―in order to increase the proportion of permanent employment in the small business sector.
The committee recommends that the Australian Government amends the Fair Work Act 2009, expanding the scope of the Act to encompass all forms of work, and empowering the Fair Work Commission to:
determine fair rates and conditions for all categories of workers, including contractors;
arbitrate on contracts with independent contractors that are unfair or harsh; and
make orders and determinations for groups or classes of workers.
The committee recommends that the Australian Government support independent contractors who are sole traders by establishing and promoting accessible low-cost pathways for dispute resolution.
The committee recommends that the Australian Bureau of Statistics consults with relevant migrant and international student community groups, community leaders, unions, employer associations and experts to ensure that its methods for data collection in relation to the on-demand platform workforce include effective and appropriate approaches to collecting data from key worker cohorts.
The committee recommends that the Australian Government urgently clarifies, by way of regulation, which persons or entities owe a duty of care as a person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) under the Model Work Health and Safety laws in relation to individual support workers engaged through on-demand platforms like Mable. The law should make it clear that:
any platform that engages workers to provide support work under the NDIS, or similar schemes, is a PCBU and owes a duty of care to those workers, regardless of workers' work status (employee or contractor), or their visa status; and
platform companies cannot transfer their obligations as a PCBU onto other parties.
The committee recommends that the Australian Government amend the National Disability Insurance Scheme Act 2013 to provide that all workers engaged to provide support as part of the National Disability Insurance Scheme must be covered by the Social, Community, Home Care and Disability Services Industry Award, or receive pay and conditions at least equivalent to that Award.
The committee recommends that the Senate give consideration to the referral of an inquiry to the Community Affairs References Committee, examining:
The extent and impact of on demand platform employment, increasing casualisation, use of labour hire/agency work, and contract labour in aged care, disability care, social services and health care more broadly, with specific regard to:
impacts of on-demand platform employment models on care workers' experiences of work and sense of job satisfaction;
pay and conditions for workers engaged through platforms, labour hire and agency roles, and casual staff, compared with permanent staff;
training and career progression for on-demand platform workers and labour hire/agency workers;
impacts of work status and worker experiences on retention and motivation to stay in the sector;
the interactions of gender and migration/visa status with work status in the care sectors;
any evidence regarding the impacts of different employment models on pay rates and conditions across the sectors more broadly; and
If such an inquiry were referred, that the committee or any subcommittee have power to consider and make use of the evidence and records of the former Select Committee on Job Security appointed during the 46th Parliament.
The committee recommends that the Australian Government amends the Fair Work Act 2009 by inserting the words 'job security' and 'gender equity' into the principal Object of the Act (section 3), and adding 'job security' and 'gender equity' into the list of matters that need to be taken into account as part of 'The modern awards objective' (section 134) in the Fair Work Act 2009.
The committee recommends that the Australian Government considers developing a tool for evaluating and rating policy proposals in respect of their potential impacts (positive and/or negative) on job security, and makes assessment against the tool mandatory for all relevant new policy proposals. Policy initiatives that are likely to lead to the creation of insecure jobs should be redesigned.
The committee recommends that the Australian Government provides increased resources for the Fair Work Ombudsman to investigate and penalise employers and companies for contraventions of workplace laws and obligations, drawing on the Ombudsman's enhanced powers provided under the Fair Work Amendment (Protecting Vulnerable Workers) Act 2017.
The committee recommends that the Australian Government accept Recommendation 23 of the National Agricultural Labour Advisory Committee, which read:
'The Committee recommends that the Australian Government require all 417 and 462 visa holders, prior to arrival in Australia, to apply for an Australian tax file number. Information should be provided to 417 and 462 visa holders in their own language, on their rights and entitlements as migrant workers in Australian workplaces, and on how to take action if they are not being treated ethically and lawfully.'
The committee recommends that the Senate give consideration to the referral of an inquiry to the Education and Employment References Committee, examining:
The extent, growth and impact of insecure work in Australia, with specific regard to:
definitions and measures of insecure and precarious work, and the need to develop national measures, and a national data set, to understand changes over time;
the growth in insecure work since the 1970s and the impacts of government policies on this growth;
the impacts of the pandemic on the growth of insecure and precarious jobs, including those in the on-demand platform sector;
job insecurity among vulnerable workers, including migrants and temporary residents;
the experiences of workers in insecure jobs, their pay and conditions, and the impacts on their health, wellbeing, social connection and prosperity;
perspectives of employers on the use of casual, fixed-term contract, labour hire and platform workforce arrangements;
impacts on the level of casual and insecure work of the reforms made in 2021 to the Fair Work Act 2009 through the Fair Work Amendment (Supporting Australia’s Jobs and Economic Recovery) Act 2021, particularly those concerning casual conversion;
the adequacy of existing legislative and regulatory regimes to address the challenges of insecure and precarious work; and
If such an inquiry were referred, that the committee or any subcommittee have power to consider and make use of the evidence and records of the former Select Committee on Job Security appointed during the 46th Parliament.