“We must solve the immediate problem which is fatalities and serious injuries impacting food delivery riders,” he said. “In this process, we will also develop a deeper understanding of the issues facing the [gig economy].”
An injured person should be able to claim under the scheme only if they do not have an entitlement under either the workers compensation scheme or the motor accidents (CTP) scheme, the document says.
Each option recommends four levels of benefits: lump-sum payments in cases of death, income support payments when an injured person is unable to work, medical expenses for a defined period and lump-sum payments for workers who suffer a significant or catastrophic injury.
Under all three options, medical expense payments are capped one year from the date of a significant injury, while payments for catastrophic injuries — such as amputations, brain and spinal cord injuries — will end three years after an incident with a maximum cap of $400,000.
Comparatively, a full suite of workers compensation benefits provides weekly income support to injured workers for up to five years, or until retirement age for serious injuries.
University of Technology Sydney labor law academic Joellen Riley Munton said the proposal document essentially outlined one option with three potential benefit scales.
“My issue with this kind of scheme is that it doesn’t recognise all of the interests workers would have if they were covered by workers’ compensation, such as rehabilitation services and return to work rights,” she said.
“And it doesn’t necessarily build in any incentives on those who control the systems of work to make the work safer”.
She said paying people for injuries after the fact was the least effective regulatory scheme for encouraging safety.
“You have to make sure that the systems under which work is done, including contract terms, encourage safe practices”.
Upper house Greens MP David Shoebridge said the proposed options created two classes of workers, encouraging employers to move workers to cheaper gig economy arrangements.
“The minister needs to commit to including in the discussion paper a fully costed option that will see gig workers have the same rights when injured as every other worker in NSW”.
– with Nick Bonyhady
Lucy Cormack is a state political reporter with The
Sydney Morning Herald.