This article surveys two recent Australian regulatory developments which highlight the critical role of competition law and voluntary industry standards in regulating gig work. In particular, the class exemption for small business collective bargaining that was recently introduced by the federal Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (“ACCC”) presents important opportunities for platform workers to enhance working conditions via collectively bargaining with platform companies. Complementing this development, the state government of Victoria is planning to introduce a set of Fair Conduct and Accountability Standards for the platform economy, which include provisions to encourage platforms to engage collectively with workers. We consider how the introduction of these voluntary industry standards may interact with federal competition laws and reflect on the impact these standards may have for gig workers on the ground.

By Tess Hardy, Anthony Forsyth & Shae McCrystal[1]

 

I. INTRODUCTION

In many countries, regulatory reforms directed at gig work have been focused on widening the definition of employment and clamping down on misclassification.[2] In Australia, however, regulatory initiatives directed at the gig economy have taken a somewhat unexpected turn. Earlier this year, the High Court of Australia – the apex court in this country – handed down two judgments which have contracted, rather than expanded, the common law definition of employment.[3] T

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