Anthony Albanese flags new gig worker protections and a rolling contract crackdown ahead of Labor’s industrial relations announcement

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  • Labor will promise new Fair Work Commission powers over Australia’s gig economy, according to a speech Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese will deliver Wednesday.
  • The speech reportedly calls for the commission to “determine what rights and obligations should apply” for vulnerable workers.
  • The major policy announcement comes as the Coalition government prepares its own industrial relations reform bill.
  • Visit Business Insider Australia’s homepage for more stories.

A Labor government would pave the way for gig economy workers to access workplace entitlements like superannuation and a minimum wage, according to a draft speech from Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese.

The Guardian reports Albanese will outline the party’s industrial relations platform on Wednesday, using the speech to outline new Fair Work Commission powers over Australia’s gig economy.

The commission would be empowered to cover “employee-like forms of work,” and “determine what rights and obligations should apply,” Albanese is expected to say.

Critics have long condemned gig economy operators for effectively paying under the minimum wage, and asserting that workers are contractors who don’t qualify for superannuation, sick leave, or protections against unfair dismissal.

According to The Guardian, Albanese will announce plans to “legislate to create a fair test to determine when a worker can be classified as a casual,” thereby clarifying the contentious issue.

Labor is slated to announce a cap on rolling fixed-term contracts, with workers offered full-time contracts after 24 months or no more than two consecutive contracts, whichever arrives first.

The ALP also plans to expand access to portable leave for workers in insecure work, and target “cowboy” labour hire companies which pay workers less than full-time employees doing the exact same job.

The draft speech has gained the approval of union heavyweights, with Australian Council of Trade Unions secretary Sally McManus today calling it “an excellent comprehensive plan to deal with casualisation and give Australian workers greater job security.”

The speech suggests Labor will make industrial relations a cornerstone of its next federal election campaign.

News of the fresh policy positions arrives as the Coalition government prepares to move forward with its industrial relations omnibus bill, which it says will simplify awards for part-time work and impose weighty criminal penalties for wage theft, among other changes.

But opponents warn that the bill’s proposed suspension of the ‘Better Off Overall Test’ in certain circumstances could negatively impact workers.