Family of Hungry Panda delivery driver killed on the job awarded $834,000 in landmark decision | gig economy
The family of a Happy Panda delivery driver who was killed in Sydney in 2020 will receive more than $800,000 under the NSW workers’ compensation scheme, in what the union says is the first case where a worker in the gig economy was considered an employee.
Xiaojun Chen was killed after being hit by a bus while riding his motorbike in the Sydney suburb of Zetland on September 29, 2020, while working for Hungry Panda.
The Personal Injury Commission found this month that the 43-year-old had died from injuries sustained during his employment with Hungry Panda. Employers Mutual Limited, an insurance agent for iCare’s workers’ compensation scheme, agreed that Chen was an employee when he died.
The Transport Workers Union says this is the first case of its kind in which an on-demand worker has been found to be a worker’s compensation employee.
As part of the NSW workers compensation schemedependents of an employee who died of a work-related injury are entitled to a lump sum payment of just over $834,000 and weekly payments of $149.30 for each dependent child up to at the age of 16 years. Chen left behind a wife, two children and his 75-year-old father.
Jasmina Mackovic, practice group leader at Slater and Gordon who represented the family in the case, said: ‘To our knowledge, this is the first instance where it has been admitted that a driver in the economy of concerts was considered a worker.”
“Gig economy workers and their families are generally denied any entitlements because they are considered independent contractors rather than employees, which means they cannot access workers’ compensation. accidents at work and other benefits, such as annual leave and sick leave.”
Chen’s widow, Lihong Wei, said in a statement that the decision would bring “respect and recognition to all food delivery workers for the essential service they provide.”
Chen is from a small village in rural China and the family had planned to return to China to open a business together to support his family, to whom he was sending money before he was killed.
“Now that dream will never come true. The grief that my children, their grandparents and I feel cannot be put into words,” Wei said.
“My children miss their daddy every day. My daughter started having difficulties with school and my son lost his father forever at only eight years old. My stepfather lost his only son. Nothing can ever fix that. »
Michael Kaine, national secretary of the Transport Workers’ Union, said that after two long years, justice had been served for Chen’s family.
“No family should have to go through the indescribable grief of losing a loved one at work. While no amount of compensation can truly heal the loss felt by Xioajun’s family, this decision goes a long way towards righting a horrible wrong,” he said.
“The Albanian government is committed to action and must act urgently to lift standards and protect workers. Empowering an independent body to set standards for all workers, regardless of label, will strike at the heart of the exploitation that makes food delivery so deadly.
Guardian Australia has sought comment from Hungry Panda.