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Labour hire workers: contractors or employees?

A Full Federal Court recently considered the current case authority to determine whether a worker is a contractor or employee in the context of labour hire arrangements. Chief Justice Allsop, in an apparent reluctant decision finding that the worker was an independent contractor, commented that it was not appropriate for an intermediate court of appeal to depart from the current approach, despite its limitations.

 

Facts

The case of CFMEU v Personnel Contracting  was an appeal by the CFMEU against a Federal Court decision that found the workers were independent contractors as set out in the service agreement signed by the parties. The case involved a 22-year-old backpacker who approached the company looking for work as a builder’s labourer. The worker had no tools and no busines of his own, the facts establishing that he was simply seeking to be paid in return for his labour. At the request of the company, the worker signed a standard contract provided to him and he thereafter was told where and when

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Australia & the ‘Gig Economy’

In recent years, the popularity of online service apps such as Uber, Diliveroo and Foodora has skyrocketed and Australia has embraced the ‘gig economy’ with open arms. This new movement refers to environments where businesses or individuals contract with free agent workers (usually through an app-based platform) for short-term engagements. As a result, an increased number of workers are trading off the stability which traditional employment provides for flexibility and autonomy whereas others are simply keen to earn a little extra cash on the side.

However, workers can experience inconsistent hours of work, patchy cash flow and lack of entitlements such as paid sick leave, holidays, notice of termination and so on. Additionally, workers are expected to provide their own physical assets and are required to pay any maintenance costs out of their own pockets. There is also the question of who is responsible if something goes wrong. Issues have arisen regarding the legal implications of these kinds of arrangements including whether these workers are truly independent contractors or in

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Employee or Independent Contractor? It's Not the Title That Counts

The recent case of Kuat Chee v Renown Business Solutions Pty Ltd [2012] FWA 5137 (9 July 2012)  addressed the difficult topic of when a contractor is truly a contractor, and when they are properly classified as an employee.

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