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How will your party protect workers’ rights in areas of the economy where vulnerable people are especially prone to exploitation, such as the ‘gig’ economy?

Labor doesn’t support a business model if it can only succeed by undermining workers’ rights and avoiding workers’ entitlements. Labor will make sure workers in the gig economy are paid properly and not used to undermine Australian wages, including by changing the legal test for sham contracting.

Failure to pay workers at the legal minimum undermines everyone’s wages. Labor has a plan to crack down on wage theft, with higher penalties and better enforcement.


The Coalition has taken unprecedented action to protect vulnerable workers. Whether ensuring superannuation entitlements are paid to workers, boosting powers and resources of the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) to protect vulnerable workers, or cracking down on sham contracting, it is the Coalition that has taken decisive action.

The Coalition has:

  • Introduced tough new laws, increased penalties up to ten fold, strengthened the
    investigative powers of the FWO to crackdown on mistreatment of workers and increased
    the funding and staffing of the FWO.
  • Provided additional resources and powers to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) to
    recover unpaid superannuation and prevent non-payment by employers.
  • Implemented protections to reverse changes Bill Shorten made as Minister that allow
    small superannuation accounts to be entirely eroded by fees and charges, to proactively
    reunite workers with lost super and to ban exit fees.
  • Established a Migrant Workers Taskforce, led by Professor Alan Fells AO, to provide
    advice and stronger coordination of government efforts to protect vulnerable migrant
    workers. The Government has agreed in principle to all of the taskforce’s
  • Provided $60 million in additional resources to the FWO to protect vulnerable workers,
    and additional staff.
  • Committed to establishing a National Labour Hire Registration Scheme to ensure
    compliance and transparency in the labour hire industry in high-risk sectors.
  • Undertaken an education campaign to raise migrant workers’ awareness and
    understanding of their rights under Australian workplace laws.
  • Clamped down on sham contracting by introducing tougher penalties and funding a
    dedicated sham contracting unit within the FWO to better identify, prosecute and deter
    this unscrupulous behaviour, as well as undertake targeted education activities with
    employers and workers, including those participating in the gig economy.

Labor had no vulnerable workers policy in their six years in government. In fact, they ignored their own recommendations about sham contracting, cut the FWO’s funding by 17 per cent and cut its staffing by 20 per cent.

The Greens were the first party to move to legislate to ensure vulnerable workers, including gig economy, contract and labour hire workers, get the same legal minimum wages and conditions as traditional employees. The Greens have also moved to close loopholes that allow minimum standards to be negotiated out of enterprise agreements.

We respect the operations of the market and the human right to work. Individuals can independently offer their labour on terms and conditions as they see fit within the existing rules.