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Australians flock to gig economy for work

Rideshare drivers are among seven per cent of working Australians finding jobs through the ‘gig economy’, using more than 100 digital platforms to generate income, new research shows.

More than 14,000 people across Australia completed a survey commissioned for the Victorian government’s inquiry into the on-demand workforce.

Lead researcher, Queensland University of Technology’s Paula McDonald, said the proportion of people using the gig economy to find work was higher than some previous estimates, but the new figure aligns with recent European surveys.

“We were reasonably surprised at just the number of platforms people mentioned … more than 100,” she told AAP.

“It’s possible now for a really wide variety of work to be undertaken through platforms from caring to writing and translation, to web design, computer programming, to odd jobs and maintenance and skilled trades work.”

The most common digital platform workers include men aged 18 to 34, students, temporary residents, people with a disability, and those who do not speak English at home.

NSW has the highest level of gig economy workers (7.9 per cent), followed by Victoria (7.4 per cent).

Platform workers reported high satisfaction with the flexibility of work but are less satisfied with their incomes.

The five most common platforms used by Australian workers are Airtasker (34.8 per cent), Uber (22.7 per cent), Freelancer (11.8 per cent), Uber Eats (10.8 per cent) and Deliveroo (8.2 per cent).

Governments need to keep track of the gig economy to gain a better understanding of the modern workforce, Prof McDonald said.

“These workers are usually not employees – they’re freelance, self-employed independent contractors,” she said.

“There are definitely big issues around social welfare, taxation and superannuation and so on, which are linked to patterns of digital platform work participation.”

The Victorian Inquiry into the On-Demand Workforce will report to the state government later this year.

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