NIBA submission on personal injury insurance for gig economy workers

NIBA has made a submission to SIRA on personal injury insurance arrangements for food delivery riders

Written on 2 June, 2021
Tanaya Das

The National Insurance Brokers Association (NIBA) has made a submission to the NSW State Insurance Regulatory Authority consultation (SIRA) on personal injury insurance arrangements for food delivery riders.

The submission acknowledged that the meteoric rise of the gig-economy in Australia has had a significant impact on the Australian economy and workforce as well as how unprepared Australia’s regulatory environment is to handle these new ways of working.

The Association cited the deaths of six food-delivery riders in 2020 and the subsequent lack of protections for injured riders and their families is just one example where employment law cannot keep pace with the gig-economy.

The submission stated that gig-economy platforms have maintained that their driver and delivery partners are not employees but independent contractors, “So far that assertion has had only limited attention in Australian courts, with platforms often choosing to settle prior to judgement. However, NIBA notes that the status of a person for tax purposes bears no direct relationship to that person’s status as a worker for workers insurance purposes. As such it is possible that these workers may already be entitled to protection under the workers compensation scheme, irrespective of any ruling on their status as workers.”

NIBA’s submission noted that delivery riders who work for either Uber or Deliveroo are currently covered under the company’s respective injury insurance policies. However, the benefits available to workers and their families under these policies are significantly less than those available under the NSW worker’s compensation scheme. For example, the maximum lump sum benefit payable for Accidental Death under the UBER Personal Accident Policy is $500,000 compared to $834,200 under the NSW Worker’s compensation scheme. It is not clear whether riders for other platforms are covered by similar policies.

The Association stated that it believes that food delivery riders meet the requirements of a deemed worker as they are engaged by the platform for the purposes of their trade and are directed by the platform regarding the work to be performed and the time in which it is to be performed (many platforms track their delivery partners and riders may be removed from the platform if they fail to complete deliveries in what the platform deems to be a timely manner).

“There may be some complexities under this option where riders are contracted by multiple platforms, and suffer injuries as a result of repeated strain/activity in determining the deemed employer however NIBA noted that these complexities already exist with other casual workers and the legislation has mechanism for dealing with these.”

NIBA’s preferred option was revealed to be to extend the existing workers compensation scheme to include food delivery riders, “This could be done by amended existing workers compensation regulation to provide that food delivery drivers are deemed workers for the purposes of accessing workers compensation benefits and protection.”