workplace law

Pendlebury Workplace Law is a specialist workplace relations and employment law legal practice based in Sydney.

Independent Contractors or Employees?

Welcome news regarding independent contractors…

New Small Business Minister Bruce Billson has engaged in discussions with Treasury officials on sticking “to the letter of the law” in determining whether someone is an independent contractor or employee, and intends to hold similar discussions with other agencies and departments.

The Coalition sees the former Labor government as having pushed from independent contracting toward employment arrangements.

A spokesperson for Mr. Billson confirmed the Minister would also be talking to the ATO, Fair Work Ombudsman and Fair Work Building and Construction.

The Coalition’s small business policy, released in the lead-up to the September 7 election, says Labor “tasked” the three (3) organisations “to target independent contractors“, which “will eventually force them into union-controlled enterprise agreements“.

The small business policy states that the Coalition “will support Australian independent contractors and will not change current laws relating to the treatment of personal services income, in addition to resisting Labor’s coordinated attack on the self-employed“.

The ACTU, however, said that any “relaxation” of the rules around independent contracting by the Abbott Government would lead to more exploitation of employees under sham contracting arrangements.   Peak body president Ged Kearney described sham contracting as “one of the dirty secrets of the modern Australian workplace“.

“While contracting is appropriate in some industries where services are in demand, it is also rife in industries like hairdressing, cleaning, call centres and textiles, where workers have little choice or bargaining power,” Ms. Kearney said. “It’s all very well to encourage self-employment, however where people are effectively working as employees, they deserve all the protections afforded to employees by the law.

Brooke Pendlebury
Friday, September 27, 2013