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Featured News Robots and the ‘gig’ economy: mapping the new world of employment

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Wed, 28 Feb 2018

Robots and the ‘gig’ economy: mapping the new world of employment

Robots and the ‘gig’ economy are rapidly changing the way we work – and a James Cook University Associate Professor of Law has set her sights on exploring the new landscape.

JCU Law School Associate Professor Dr Louise Floyd said globalisation, automation, robots and the so-called ‘gig’ economy all have impacts on the law.

“Whether it is the use of automated heavy equipment on the waterfront or in the mines – or the use by young people of apps as a platform to form working ‘gigs’, today’s workforce is undergoing many changes on many fronts,” she said.

Dr Floyd said the book of which she is the lead author - Employment Labour and Industrial Law in Australia, published by Cambridge University Press - explains employment and labour law and the key industrial issues that exist today, and foreshadows the pathway ahead in the future workplace.

She said one of the biggest challenges for law makers will be adapting our labour law system, which was largely developed when people had jobs for life and there were many manual labour positions, as the manner in which we work changes.

Dr Floyd took the picture of the Antarctic that appears on the cover of the book. She said it is an apt metaphor.

“The Antarctic seems like it has been around forever but new parts of it are only now being explored. It’s the same with employment law.  Employment and Labour Law have been around for ages, but there is a revolution happening in the workplace and the law is changing with it.”

Dr Floyd said she was generally optimistic about the automated future, and didn’t think it would lead to all workers being replaced by robots.

“Even when there are robots, there still need to be people to fix and program them, likewise most people still want a hairdresser they can actually talk to.  I don’t think it is the end of the world just yet, but we all do need to adapt and multi-skill. And we have to try not to leave people behind.”

Link to book here.

Background.

In 2017, Associate Professor Floyd served her third term as International Visiting Fellow at Cornell University’s Industrial & Labour Relations School in New York.  (Cornell is in America’s Ivy League, along with Harvard and Yale).

Associate Professor Floyd’s research was also cited with approval in the Final Report of The Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption.

Associate Professor Floyd dedicated her book to her family and also her two professional mentors:  Hon Margaret McMurdo AC, former President of the Queensland Court of Appeal (for whom Dr Floyd was Judge’s Associate in 1993); and Hon Justice David North – the Townsville-based Judge of the Queensland Supreme Court (who was Louise’s Lecturer back in the 1990s).

Contacts

Associate Professor Louise Floyd
P: 07 4781 4106
E: Floyd.Louise@gmail.com