New independent contractors laws backed by ACCI

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New independent contractors laws backed by ACCI

A major employer group has welcomed the Federal Government’s move to extricate independent contractors from coverage by state or federal IR systems through new legislation.

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A major employer group has welcomed the Federal Government’s move to extricate independent contractors from coverage by state or federal IR systems through new legislation.

Contractor numbers growing fast

Peter Hendy, Chief Executive of the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) said the new national laws will protect the status of independent contractors and prevent the industrial relations system (federal or state) being used to regulate their commercial relations or status.

‘The growth of genuine independent contractors in our economy has been one of the unheralded success stories of our labour market and economy over the past fifteen years,’ he said.

‘There are now almost as many independent contractors (1.1 million) as there are union members (1.8 million).’

Hendy said independent contracting arrangements reflect ‘the freedom and flexibility that creates efficiency and productivity for the client business and greater income earning potential and work/life and family benefits for contractors’.

‘Independent contractors have taken the initiative to establish themselves as businesspeople,’ he said. ‘They are not employees. Industrial relations laws apply to employees. Contract law applies to contractors. Australian law needs to make this clear, because the boundaries have been blurred by State and Commonwealth legislation.’

Detail of law important

Hendy said the detail of the proposed legislation will be important.

‘ACCI does not oppose laws which prevent sham independent contract arrangements,’ he said. ‘Proposed laws about the regulation of unfair contracts should not impose unnecessary regulation in areas where contract law and trade practices law already operate.’

Hendy said that maintaining access to NSW and Victorian state laws about owner drivers as foreshadowed by Employment Relations Minister Kevin Andrews ‘is not ACCI’s preferred position’

‘This will be a matter that the proposed Commonwealth review in 2007 should clearly recommend against,’ he said.

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