Following the FWO’s commencement of legal proceedings against Foodora, alleging sham contracting activity, ombudsman Natalie James has placed the gig economy on notice, noting that it will now be a priority for her agency.
“As the Fair Work Ombudsman, it is not my intention to pass value judgements on the nature of business operations, or to stifle innovation. I am not seeking to deny anyone’s opportunities,” said Ms James.
“But my job is to ensure compliance with the law in an age of disruption. Where employees are incorrectly classified as independent contractors, it has the potential to not only affect the worker but also unfairly disadvantage other businesses applying award rates of pay and conditions.
“Disruption of existing markets is only legitimate if it is lawful.”
Speaking to The Bookkeeper, Association of Accounting Technicians chief executive, Rochelle Park said the Foodora decision would have significant implications for other economies that involved the use on contractors.
“If the findings of the FWO in relation to Foodora Australia Pty Ltd are supported by the Court as a result of the current legal action underway, there will be significant implications not only for the gig economy but also for industries where the use of 'independent contractors' is commonplace,” said Ms Park.
“This would include building and construction, cleaning, couriers, security and road freight transport industries that have already been identified by the ATO as high risk industries for non-compliance and the use of contractors is extensive.”
Where in doubt, Ms Park has urged bookkeepers to work with HR professionals who are qualified to provide advice relation to the application of modern awards, and believes the new Diploma of Payroll Services will help bookkeepers learn the suite of skills associated with a payroll administrator.
“The new, nationally accredited Diploma of Payroll Services announced earlier this year, will serve to provide bookkeepers with the opportunity to learn in-depth information about many aspects of the HR function, including the Fair Work Act and the Modern Awards, to complement their work with HR professional advisers,” said Ms Park.
Jotham Lian is the editor of Accountants Daily, the leading source of breaking news, analysis and insight for Australian accounting professionals.
Before joining the team in 2017, Jotham wrote for a range of national mastheads including the Sydney Morning Herald, and Channel NewsAsia.