NSW slams contractor laws

THE NSW Government has labelled a Federal Government Senate inquiry into independent contracting laws a sham, claiming it lacked any terms of reference and would strip legitimate contractors of working entitlements

THE NEW SOUTH WALES Government has labelled a Federal Government Senate inquiry into independent contracting laws a sham, claiming it lacked any terms of reference and would strip legitimate contractors of working entitlements.

Protection for contractors that exist under State laws, such as deeming provisions that give ‘at risk’ groups the rights of employees, and unfair contract provisions that provide fair and accessible remedies, are specifically overridden by the Federal Independent Contractors Bill, according to John Della Bosca, NSW Minister for Industrial Relations.

Section 900 of the Bill even provides a ready-made defence for any employer who sets up sham contracting arrangements to avoid their responsibilities, he said.

“The Bill states an employer cannot be held responsible for any sham contract, as long as they ‘genuinely believe’ the contract is for services, not employment.”

Employers who make staff independent contractors no longer have to provide minimum rates of pay, annual leave, long service leave, superannuation, workers compensation, sick leave, and public holidays, according to Della Bosca.

However, the Federal Government said employers will not be allowed to force employees into sham contracting arrangements.

Philip Ruddock, Acting Employment and Workplace Relations Minister, said Della Bosca’s comments were misleading.

“He has further asserted that employee entitlements such as superannuation and workers compensation will be affected by the Bill. This is simply untrue,”Ruddock said.

“The Bill explicitly provides for specific penalties to be imposed on employers who seek to avoid their obligations under employment law: by disguising their employees as sham independent contractors; or who coerce their employees to become independent contractors; or for dismissing or threatening to dismiss an employee with the purpose of re-engaging them as an independent contractor.”

Under the new laws, any corporation that forces a genuine employee into a sham contracting arrangement will face a $33,000 fine, with a $6,600 fine for an individual employer, he said.

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