The widow and children of a food delivery driver who was hit by a bus and killed in Sydney will receive a $ 830,000 payout after a landmark court ruling found him employed.
- Xiaojun Chen’s family will receive more than $ 800,000 after the driver was hit by a bus
- The personal injury commission has found out that Chen was employed, not a contractor, at Hungry Panda
- Proponents say the ruling is groundbreaking for concert economy workers
Xiaojun Chen, 43, died while riding a motorcycle for the Hungry Panda in the suburb of Zetland in September 2020, leaving behind his wife Lihong Wei, their two children and his 75-year-old father, who all live in China.
The Transport Workers Union (TWU) said the Personal Injury Commission found Mr Chen entitled to workers’ compensation after Hungry Panda admitted responsibility for his death.
Wei, who had to say goodbye to her husband via video calls from rural China to a hospital in Sydney, said her husband worked in Australia to send money home to her family.
“My kids miss their dad every day,” she said.
“My daughter has started struggling with school and my son has lost his father forever, only eight years old. Nothing can ever solve this.”
TWU National Secretary Michael Kaine welcomed the decision and praised Mrs Wei for seeking compensation.
“After two long years, justice has finally been done for Xiaojun’s family,” he said.
TWU has campaigned for food delivery riders to have rights such as minimum wage and work compensation, regardless of which “contractor” mark is imposed on their jobs.
Jasmina Mackovic of the law firm Slater and Gordon said the decision was “the first of its kind in a work compensation sense”.
“Gig economy workers and their families are usually denied any rights because they are considered independent contractors rather than employees, which means they are not able to access workers’ compensation and other benefits such as cancellation of leave and sick leave,” he said. she.
The University of Sydney’s industrial relations expert, Chris F Wright, said it was an important decision.
“It is a decision that goes against the legal development of the last few decades in Australia in the field of employment, which has largely gone against workers and for the benefit of employers,” he said.
The federal court has previously ruled that a Foodora Australia delivery driver was employed when he was unfairly fired.
But in a similar case involving UberEats, the federal court found that drivers and riders were entrepreneurs because they could choose when and where they worked.
NSW Minister for Employment Damien Tudehope said the “old model” of excluding some workers’ rights
“I think we need to develop a policy in relation to the concert economy,” he said.
“The successful outcome of this claim sends a signal that we need to do a lot more work in terms of how we treat workers who are committed to the finances of the concert.”
An NSW upper house survey on technology on industry and workers is to be reported later this year.
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