Published 20-04-2021
| Article appears in April 2021 Issue

Workforce not being casualised, Ai Group tells senate select committee

20-04-2021
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The workforce is not subject to casualisation, nor is it experiencing a growth in independent contractors, says Innes Willox, Chief Executive of the national employer association Ai Group.

Despite the view of some commentators, “the proportion of the total workforce engaged as casual employees has remained around the same for over two decades. Also, the proportion of the total workforce engaged as independent contractors is decreasing.”

Mr Willox made these comments in a submission to the Senate Select Committee on Job Security.

“Flexibility in the labour market is essential to Australia's economy, and to the recovery from the pandemic-induced recession. Flexibility is important for businesses and for workers,” he said.

"Different labour arrangements are essential because of the diversity of business models, industry demands, and the wide variety of products and services provided to the local and international community.

"As with all previous waves of new technology through history, digital transformation should not be seen as inherently negative to the workforce, the workplace or society more broadly. Digital technologies will enable businesses to innovate, grow, improve their productivity and remain competitive in an increasingly global marketplace. Australia has a long and positive history of business and industry successfully adopting and adapting new technologies,” he continued in the executive summary of the submission.

"Platform work provides many benefits to workers. Individuals who wish to work flexibly around other commitments, such as studies, recreational activities, family commitments or other forms of paid employment often find the experience of working via online platforms, a useful and convenient way of earning or supplementing income.

"Australia's workplace laws must recognise and accommodate the need for Australian businesses to engage employees and contractors in different ways. The vast majority of employment and contracting relationships rely on Australia's current workplace relations framework, including the flexibility afforded by the common law tests in determining whether a worker is an employee or an independent contractor. The existing framework should not be disturbed.

"Overly prescriptive laws would stifle innovation to the detriment of businesses, workers and the whole community," Mr Willox said.

The full Ai Group submission is available at this link.

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