Upper house

Family of delivery driver Xiaojun Chen who died at work awarded $830,000 compensation

The widow and children of a food delivery driver who was hit by a bus and killed in Sydney will receive an $830,000 payout, after a landmark court ruling found he was an employee.

Xiaojun Chen, 43, died while riding his motorcycle for 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 Board found Mr Chen was entitled to workers’ compensation, after Hungry Panda admitted responsibility for his death.

Ms Wei, who had to say goodbye to her husband by video call from rural China to a hospital in Sydney, said her husband was working in Australia to send money home to his family.

“My kids miss their daddy every day,” she said.

“My daughter started struggling with school and my son lost his father forever at only eight years old. Nothing can ever fix that.”

Xiaojun Chen’s wife and two children live in China.(Provided)

TWU National Secretary Michael Kaine welcomed the decision and praised Ms Wei for seeking compensation.

“After two long years, justice has finally been served for Xiaojun’s family,” he said.

The TWU campaigned for food delivery workers to have rights such as minimum wage and workers’ compensation regardless of the “contractor” label imposed on their work.

A woman dressed in black stands in an alley.
Lihong Wei says his children “miss their daddy every day.”(ABC News: Jack Fisher)

Jasmina Mackovic of law firm Slater and Gordon said the ruling was “the first of its kind in workers’ compensation.”

“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. workers’ compensation and other benefits such as vacation leave and sick leave,” she said.

University of Sydney industrial relations expert Chris F Wright said it was a significant decision.

“It is a decision that runs counter to the legal developments of recent decades in Australia in the field of employment, which have largely worked against workers and in favor of employers, he said.

The Federal Court has already ruled that a Foodora Australia delivery driver was an employee when he was wrongfully dismissed.

But in a similar case involving UberEats, the Federal Court found that drivers and passengers were contractors because they could choose when and where they worked.

NSW Labor Relations Minister Damien Tudehope said the “old model” excluded some workers’ rights.

“I think we need to develop a policy around the gig economy,” he said.

“The success of this claim sends a signal that we need to do a lot more work in terms of how we treat workers engaged in the gig economy.”

A New South Wales Upper House inquiry into industry and worker technology is due to report later this year.

Job , updated