Gig worker's family gets six-figure payout in landmark ruling

The TWU hailed the decision saying it delivers justice for the family

Gig worker's family gets six-figure payout in landmark ruling

The family of a deceased food delivery rider in Australia will receive over $800,000 payout after a landmark ruling decided that the rider is considered an employee of a food delivery platform.

The rider, 43, was killed at work back in 2020 after being hit by a bus while riding his motorbike in Sydney, New South Wales.

In a decision by the Personal Injury Commission this month, the late rider passed on from his injuries sustained in the court of his employment with the food delivery platform, The Guardian reported.

The Employers Mutual Limited, iCare workers' compensation scheme insurance agent, also agreed that the rider was employed by the food delivery platform when he died. This means that the family left behind by the late driver will be entitled to a payout amounting to over $830,000 under the NSW workers' compensation scheme.

The ruling marks a milestone for gig economy workers across Australia, as it sets a precedent where they are regarded as an employee instead of an independent contractor.

Gig economy workers and their families are usually denied entitlements because they are considered independent contractors rather than employees. This means these workers do not have access to workers' compensation and leave benefits, and are not guaranteed loss of wages payments, lump sum of impairment suffered in case of injuries or fatalities.

Jasmina Mackovic, practice group leader from Slater and Gordon, said this might be the first case where a gig worker was considered an employee.

"To our knowledge, this is the first case where there has been an admission that a gig economy driver has been considered a worker," said Mackovic in a statement.

Read more: Report finds NSW 'falling behind' in protecting gig workers

The Transport Workers Union also welcomed the decision in a statement, stressing that justice is "finally" delivered to the victim's family.

"No family should have to experience the indescribable grief of losing a loved one at work," TWU national secretary Michael Kaine said in a statement.

According to Kaine, gig companies have "for too long" managed to go around industrial relations law.

"For too long, gig companies have been able to skirt the edges of our out-dated industrial relations law which divides workers into two camps: one which receives hard-won rights, and one which is not entitled to any basic protections. Denying workers' rights has created an industry rife with underpayment, extraordinary pressure, injuries, and death," he said.

"The Albanese Government has committed to action and must move urgently to lift standards and protect workers. Empowering an independent body to set enforceable standards for all workers regardless of their label will strike at the heart of the exploitation making food delivery so deadly." 

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