industrial relations, Startup News & Analysis

Airtasker enters “world-first” agreement with Unions NSW on pay rates and work conditions: “This agreement is only the beginning”

Dinushi Dias /

Airtasker-co-founders Tim Fung and Jonathan Lui

Airtasker-co-founders Tim Fung and Jonathan Lui

Sydney startup Airtasker has entered an agreement with Unions NSW that will see the platform promote above-award pay rates and fairer working conditions for those that use its platform.

On advice from Unions NSW, Airtasker chief executive and co-founder Tim Fung says the platform has updated its “price guide and safety information” with plans also underway to launch a personal injury insurance scheme for workers on the platform.

“It’s important to work together with regulators, industry stakeholders and government in order to create a sustainable company in the long term,” Fung tells StartupSmart.

“The initiatives are absolutely awesome for our community – improving education in relation to task pricing, safety and insurance.”

Fung says Airtasker is taking an important step forward as a player in the so-called gig economy and believes others in the sector should follow suit.

“Each platform needs to consider how it will create the best outcome for users and this may or may not reflect in the same standards or initiatives that Airtasker has created,” he says.

According to Airtasker, which closed a $22 million Series B funding round in June 2016, more than $75 million in tasks have been transacted on the platform which launched in 2012. In Australia alone, Airtasker supports over 1 million members.

However, Airtakser has previously come under fire from the union movement for individual jobs or tasks being advertised on the platform that are below national minimum award rates, according to Fairfax.

The “ground-breaking” details

According to Unions NSW, the “ground-breaking” agreement is a world-first for regulation of the gig economy with Airtasker’s new recommended pay rates set above “comparative award rates”.

“This is a big step in improving workplace protection for those working in the gig economy,” Unions NSW secretary Mark Morey said in a statement.

“It represents a world first in regulating gig-based work.”

Under the agreement, Airtasker will roll out an “affordable and flexible” insurance scheme similar to workers compensation and work with Unions NSW to introduce a dispute resolution process, which will be overseen by the Fair Work Commission.

“This agreement is a huge advance for wages and conditions of those working through the Airtasker platform,” Morey says.

Morey believes the agreement with Airtakser should set a new benchmark for other gig economy and freelancer platforms in the market.

“Others should follow Airtasker’s example and consider the ethical dimension of their impact,” Morey says.

“This is the first plank of a new floor we are building under the gig economy.

“The fact work is arranged through a website or app should not mean that all notions of decency and fairness are ignored. Airtasker to its credit has recognised this.”

Morey says Airtasker’s move to improve conditions for its users demonstrates that new digital platforms can “flexibly adopt” the standards Australia has developed over “more than a century” to protect workers with minimum wage, workplace health and safety and dispute resolution.

“This agreement is only the beginning,” Morey says.

“Across a range of industries, wages and conditions are being shredded by gig economy platforms. If these operators were smart, they would realise that engaging with the trade union movement is a competitive advantage and will help them build a reputation for social responsibility.”

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Dinushi Dias

Dinushi Dias is a freelance journalist and a former StartupSmart reporter and multimedia content producer. She is the co-founder of Melbourne-based production house Dinushi & Power.

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