Contractors law strengthened for outworkers

News

Contractors law strengthened for outworkers

Workplace Relations Minister Kevin Andrews has accepted a Senate Committee's recommendation to withdraw a section of the Independent Contractors legislation in order to strengthen protection for clothing outworkers.

WantToReadMore

Get unlimited access to all of our content.

Workplace Relations Minister Kevin Andrews has accepted a Senate Committee's recommendation to withdraw a section of the Independent Contractors legislation in order to strengthen protection for clothing outworkers.

However the ACTU says the changes do not go far enough and, in particular, will fail to protect young people from being exploited by sham contracting arrangements.

The Senate inquiry into the legislation was told it would reduce safeguards for people working from home in the textile, clothing and footwear industries. Andrews said it was always the Government's intention to maintain protection for outworkers.

Contrary to intention

'There was a contention, I suppose, that this clause in the Bill might have been read as contrary to the Government's intention in relation to preserving State powers to protect outworkers,' he said. 'That's why the Committee recommended that it be omitted. I am happy to accept that recommendation and I'll put it to the Government.'

The Senate inquiry has found people working from home in the textile, clothing and footwear industries are the most vulnerable to unscrupulous employers.

Opposition industrial relations spokesman Stephen Smith says Labor will support the changes to the Bill, but it still has broader concerns about the proposed legislation.

'We'll support the amendments because the amendments ameliorate policy evil,' he said.

Sham arrangements

'But we will still oppose the ultimate adoption of the Bill because all the Bill does is enable sham arrangements to continue.'

ACTU President Sharan Burrow said the proposed new Independent Contractors' Law is 'still fundamentally flawed because it does not define the difference between independent contractors and employees'.

'While the Senate Committee's recommendations will now give outworkers some protection from exploitation, little has been done to prevent employers from pushing more workers into sham contracting arrangements where employees miss out on award rates of pay, annual leave, superannuation, workers compensation and other basic entitlements,' she said.

'Recently it was reported that major catering companies were recruiting 14 year old young people to work as so-called independent contractors selling hot pies and ice creams at football games for a commission of only 10% of sales.

Prohibit exploitation

'There are also instances of teenagers being employed on building sites as independent contractors - on low wages and with inadequate accident insurance in the event that something goes wrong. The law needs to be changed to prohibit employers from exploiting young people as independent contractors.

'Young people aged under 18 require the permission of their parents to sign an AWA individual contract, why should independent contracting be any different?'

Related

Independent contractors Bill a 'double whammy' for professionals, says union

Contractors Bill means you can be 'your own boss', says Andrews



  

 

Post details