Working in The Gig Economy – You Could be an Independent Contractor or Employee

This article is sponsored by Fair Work Ombudsman

What is the gig economy?

The gig economy uses mobile apps or websites to connect individuals providing services with consumers. As a work option, the gig economy can offer individuals flexibility and convenience. In the gig economy, individuals provide services to consumers for a fee via digital platforms or marketplaces.

What are common gig economy services in Australia?

  • Ride sharing services – for example, where consumers book an individual to drive them somewhere
  • Delivery services for a fee – for example, where consumers engage an individual to deliver food or other items to them
  • Personal services for a fee – for example, where consumers engage an individual to provide creative or professional services like graphic design and web development, or odd jobs like assembling furniture and house painting.

When can work in the gig economy be unlawful?

Individuals working in the gig economy often perform work as independent contractors, and these arrangements can be genuine. However, each individual arrangement is different and sometimes gig economy platforms engage individuals as independent contractors when they are actually employees.

Independent contractors are different to employees and have different rights and responsibilities. Unlike employees, independent contractors aren’t entitled to employee entitlements such as a minimum wage or paid leave.

It’s against the law for an employer to misrepresent to an individual that they’re engaged as an independent contractor when they’re really engaged as an employee. Where this happens, the business might have to backpay the person all the entitlements they should have received as an employee.

More information and useful resources

To find out more information about working in the gig economy, including case study videos on the difference between independent contractors and employees, visit www.fairwork.gov.au/gigeconomy.

Annual wage increase

Following the Annual Wage Review 2021, the increase to the minimum wage for the Retail Award applied from 1 September 2021.

Wages in 21 other awards will increase from the first full pay period on or after 1 November 2021. These include the Hair and Beauty Award, Hospitality Award and the Restaurant Award.

You can use the Fair Work Ombudsman’s (FWO) Pay and Conditions Tool to find out your minimum entitlements.

The FWO website has a new look!

Retaining the information, tools and resources you’re familiar with, the website has been updated with a new look, navigation and other features, following extensive user testing. Visit www.fairwork.gov.au to check it out.