Workplace Relations Minister Tony Burke says gig economy laws won’t affect businesses

Asked whether subcontractors in the construction industry would experience any significant changes under the government’s IR laws, he said „no”.

“Same job, same salary [laws for labour hire workers] You know, it’s a labor hire loophole we’re closing, and the gig economy doesn’t affect them,” he said.

„You don’t go Uber Sparky’s or anything like that.”

Master Builders Australia acting chief executive Shaun Schmitke said Mr Burke’s comments were „a welcome development but do not go far enough to ease the concerns of the 264,000 self-employed traders across the country”.

„Both the ALP’s election policy and consultation paper clearly leave the door open to such an outcome,” he said.

„If the government intends to limit the scheme to gig workers only, it should make that clear and provide a commitment to exclude occupations outside the gig-economy before the legislation is introduced.”

Earlier this week, MBA chief executive Denita Vaughan said an advisory paper on gig labor laws had gone beyond their original intent and „opened the door for businesses to be swallowed up throughout the economy.”

„The ’employee-like’ action is one of the most significant and real attacks on the rights of self-employed and independent contractors,” he said.

„If the policy is implemented as predicted in this paper, it will fundamentally upend and damage the entire building and construction industry, which is founded on a model of specialist contracting arising out of the way building work is done.”

Mr Burke said MBAs have always been „very dramatic with their language”.

„They’ll make some extreme claims, but what we’re doing is very modest,” he said.

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Mr Burke said that while the laws cover on-demand platforms such as Uber, they fall „short” of covering marketplace platforms where people can propose their own fares for tasks such as AirTasker.

“You know, those pay rates aren’t set by an algorithm or anything. They are used as a notice board,” he said.

„So in consultation, even if we don’t land, we’re less likely to regulate.”

The government’s consultation paper says the laws will set standards for workers in forms of work such as staffing, „including the gig economy”.

It also says the commission can use its powers „broadly” but must be balanced by safeguards and legislation that clearly sets out the scope of its coverage.

The law specifies that the rules will cover the gig economy, but the commission will have flexibility to determine where the tax falls as „future-focused.”

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