Family of Hungry Panda delivery rider killed at work awarded $834,000 in landmark decision | Gig economy

The family of a Happy Panda delivery rider killed in Sydney in 2020 will receive more than $800,000 under the NSW workers’ compensation scheme. The union says this is the first case where a gig economy worker has been considered an employee.

Xiaojun Chen was killed after being struck by a bus while riding his motorbike in the Sydney suburb of Zetland on 29 September 2020 while working for Hungry Panda.

This month, the Personal Injuries Commission found that the 43-year-old had died from injuries sustained during his employment with Hungry Panda. Employers Mutual Limited, an iCare workers’ compensation scheme insurance agent, agreed Chen was an employee when he died.

The Transport Workers Union says this is the first case where a gig worker is an employee about workers’ compensation.

Under the NSW workers’ compensation scheme, the dependants of an employee who dies because 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 dependant child until the age of 16. 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 case where there has been an admission that a gig economy driver has been considered a worker.”

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

Chen’s widow, Lihong Wei, said in a statement 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 who he was sending money back before he was killed.

“Now, that dream will never be realized. The grief my children, their grandparents, and myself feel cannot be put into words,” Wei said.

“My children miss their daddy every day. My father in-law has lost his only son. My daughter has begun struggling with school, and my son lost his father forever at just eight years old. Nothing can ever fix this.”

Michael Kaine, national secretary of the Transport Workers Union, said after two long years, justice had been delivered for Chen’s family.

“No family should have to experience the indescribable grief of losing a loved one at work. While no amount of compensation will truly heal the loss Xioajun’s family feels, this decision goes a long way towards righting a horrible wrong,” he said.

“The Albanese government has committed to action and must move urgently to lift standards and protect workers. Empowering an independent body to set enforceable standards for all workers regardless of their label will strike at the heart of the exploitation making food delivery deadly.”

Guardian Australia sought comment from Hungry Panda.

Bella E. McMahon
I am a freelance writer who started blogging in college. I am fascinated by human nature, politics, culture, technology, and pop culture. In addition to my writing, I enjoy exploring new places, trying out new things, and engaging in conversations with new people. Some of my favorite hobbies are reading, playing music, making crafts, writing, traveling, and spending time with my family.