Women earn up to 37% less in the gig economy, face safety risks: Report

contractor-rights gig economy

There’s been much speculation about the benefits of the gig economy for current and future workers, but a new report commissioned by the Victorian government shows there are significant hurdles to overcome regarding the gender pay gap and safety of women.

Produced by a Queensland University of Technology research team and released on Monday, the report suggests that the gig economy could “both reproduce and exacerbate existing gender inequalities in work” long-term, with women in these roles currently earning between 10% and 37% less than men.

While around 40% of gig economy workers do not know what their hourly rate is, men were cited as earning on average $2.67 per hour more than women.

There were also shown to be significant discrepancies in the type of work being completed by men and women. More commonly homemakers or unpaid carers, women working within the gig economy are often doing so on a part-time, casual, or on a fixed-term contract.

While men more commonly work in areas like software development and technology, transport and food delivery and skilled trade, women participate in historically feminised areas, such as admin and data entry, sales support, writing, and care work.

Safety risks for women working within some areas of the gig economy, like ride-sharing, were also considerable.

The Victorian government established an inquiry into the on-demand workforce in 2018, accepting all 20 recommendations either fully or in principle.

Industrial relations minister Tim Pallas says there is still considerable work to be done to ensure future work works for everyone.

“The gig economy can be a winner for workers, but for too many people — including many women — platform work can fail them on the test of fairness. We’re working to improve conditions in Victoria,” he said.

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