Family of food delivery driver Xiaojun Chen, who died at work, was awarded $830k in damages

The widow and children of a food delivery man who was hit by a bus and killed in Sydney are to be paid $830,000 after a landmark court decision found him to be 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, all of whom live in China.

The Transport Workers Union (TWU) said the Personal Injury Commission found that Mr Chen was entitled to compensation from the workers after Hungry Panda admitted he was liable for his death.

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

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

“My daughter is starting to struggle with school and my son lost his father forever when he was only eight years old. Nothing can ever fix this.”

Xiaojun Chen pushes his son on a swing by a river with his children in China
Xiaojun Chen’s wife and two children live in China.Delivered

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

“After two long years, there is finally justice for Xiaojun’s family,” he said.

The TWU has campaigned for food delivery workers to gain rights such as minimum wages and workers’ compensation benefits, regardless of the “contractor” label imposed on their jobs.

A woman dressed all in black stands in a lane.
Lihong Wei says her children “miss their daddy every day”.ABC News: Jack Fisher

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

“Gig economy workers and their families are usually denied entitlements because they are considered independent contractors rather than employees, meaning they cannot access workers’ compensation and other benefits such as canceling leave and sick leave,” she said. .

University of Sydney employment relations expert Chris F Wright said it was an important decision.

“It is a decision that goes against the grain of recent decades of legal developments in Australia on employment, which have been very much to the detriment of workers and to the benefit of employers,” he said.

Federal court previously ruled that a Foodora Australia delivery man was an employee when he was unfairly fired.

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