Moreover, if it turns out workers are being exploited by “sham contracts”, where they are for all intents and purposes full employees but being treated otherwise, the federal Fair Work Act comes into play. Businesses can be fined up to $30,000 for violating provisions on this issue.
Sex worker advocates have campaigned long and hard to be recognised by employment legislation, including the right to unionise. The next step is a national award.
Sugar baby sites are as disruptive to this whole system as platforms like Uber have been to highly regulated taxi industries. They turn sex work back into a strictly private affair.
Uber’s official line is that it’s just enabling ordinary citizens to share a ride, instead of the regulated system of taxi drivers requiring a licence and police background checks. Sugar baby sites exploit the same loophole. Sugar babies are not officially workers, and thus fall completely outside any germane employment legislation.
Read more: The ‘Uberisation’ of work is driving people to co-operatives
In this sense, these websites and apps represent a return to the past where prostitution was an informal affair and protections and standards were largely non-existent.
Given recent trends, there is a distinct danger that large swathes of the economy could soon be restructured in the same way.