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‘Employment’ security exists as a legal construct, not as an economic or human reality

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

From time to time, we’ve highlighted the debate occurring in the UK over the rise of the self-employed. Some commentators see this as a bad thing.

In mid-June, the Committee for the Economic Development of Australia (CEDA) released a report on the future of Australia’s workforce. The full report is here. ICA's Executive Director, Ken Phillips, was asked to contribute a chapter on independent contracting. He cited global trends, presenting facts and some opinions. His CEDA chapter is here.

What resulted was a lengthy article in the Australian Financial Review that raised similar claims against self-employment that we see in the UK debate. The AFR article, Future of work – independence or serfdom, expressed a concern that “..the growth of decentralised organisations would not only bring freedom and flexibility for workers, it could also create 'a lonely and unpleasant world'".

Ken responded with his own AFR article, Big firms are shackling the rise of the nano-business, saying "…self-employed people exist in a world of voluntary networking and interaction. Individuals self-actualise in a work environment of their choosing. It's not necessary for people's self-worth to be determined by the ethos or bonding artificially created or imposed by the large corporate structure.”

While Ken maintains that "'Employment’ security exists as a legal construct, not as an economic or human reality', he also recognises the need for new regulation that offers some levels of protection for self-employed people. That's why ICA supports well-constructed and effective unfair contract laws for small business people. We’ve covered this extensively before.

What we're seeing is a debate that needs to be had. The new wave of work cannot be stopped. But appropriate, balanced regulatory responses are needed.


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