Rights and Protections for Contractors


Published: December 29, 2023

It's essential to note that contractors possess distinct workplace rights and protections compared to employees. 

Whether you're a contractor yourself or engaging the services of one, understanding the different regulations is crucial. 


Job Safeguards

As per the Fair Work Act 2009, the following protections are in place for independent contractors: 

  • Protection against adverse action: A business cannot terminate a contractor's agreement based on a regulatory body complaint about their work rights.
  • Safeguard against coercion: A business cannot intimidate a contractor with the threat of action to suppress their workplace rights. 
  • Freedom of association: Contractors can join or refrain from joining a labour union or employer group. 


Evaluating Contract Fairness 

Under the Independent Contractors Act 2006, independent contractors can request a court to review a contract if it's considered 'unjust' or 'severe'. The court might assess the following: 

  • Contract terms at the time of creation. 
  • The negotiating powers of the involved parties and their representatives, if any.
  • Undue influence, pressure, or unfair tactics against a contracting party.
  • Whether the contract remuneration is lesser than that of an employee performing similar work.
  • Any other factors the court deems relevant. 

The court may command changes to be made to the contract's terms or make part/all of the contract ineffective. 



Misrepresentation of Contractor Status 

When an employer deliberately misrepresents an employment relationship as a contractor agreement to avoid taxes and responsibilities like minimum wages, super, and leave — it is referred to as a sham contracting arrangement. 

Illegal activities by an employer include:

  • Misrepresenting employment as an independent contract.
  • Terminating or threatening to terminate an employee to engage them as a contractor. 
  • Making false statements to coerce an employee into becoming a contractor. 


Work Health & Safety 

All employees in Australia, including self-employed contractors, deserve a safe and healthy work environment. Employers must adhere to state or territory workplace health regulations.


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