Efforts to bring gig economy workers under Western Australia’s industrial relations system runs against the tide of the global economy and will only serve to reduce our state’s competitiveness by undermining our capacity to innovate and grow.

Chamber of Commerce and Industry WA (CCI) Chief Executive Officer Chris Rodwell said the gig economy represents a significant opportunity for the WA economy and our community.

“It gives our people the freedom to choose when they work, flexibility to top up incomes and bridge to new employment, and opportunities to reduce the costs of goods and services,” Mr Rodwell said.

“Too often governments think of innovation in terms of how they will spend taxpayer money picking winners, and fail to realise that the most important building block to innovation and economic growth is to reduce the regulatory burden.

“If the State Government moves to enforce onerous regulation it sends a message that the State is not open to new approaches to business.

“WA already lacks scale when it comes to innovation. Our start-up community is underweight on both a national and international basis, and such a decision would exacerbate the problem rather than remedy it.”

CCI’s submission to the Ministerial Review of the State Industrial Relations System has recommended that there should be no change to the definition of ‘employee’, and that any considered change to the definition would need to be examined in its entirety and the full impacts of the change assessed.

“Little consideration appears to have been given to the true impact of changing the definition of employee,” Mr Rodwell said.  

“If this change proceeds, it won’t just disrupt the business models of online platforms, it would also have the potential to capture domestic workers such as gardeners, household cleaners, babysitters and home carers.

“This would potentially turn private homes into workplaces, requiring them to comply with employment legislation, including workers compensation insurance, superannuation and workplace safety.

“At the end of the resources construction boom thousands of West Australians that lost their jobs were able to continue to earn an income quickly thanks to the flexibility of the gig economy. Without the likes of Uber many thousands of people would have been without an income whatsoever.

“CCI urges the Government to not pre-empt the reviews findings, and to instead undertake detailed and comprehensive consultation with business, and in particular, the new economy organisations that may be impacted, before a decision on any changes is made.”