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Why we do what we do: The quest for fairness

Tuesday, November 03, 2015

We’ve been pretty pleased with the creation of the Unfair Contract Protection laws for small business people. We feel that our campaigning for this since 2010 has been worthwhile.  

But it really came home recently as to why we do what we do. Robert Gottliebsen had an article in Business Spectator on the reform and there was a blog comment from Danielle which is worth quoting in full. Danielle said:

Thank goodness. As a small contractor in Australia 5 years ago I simply gave up working. The deals I could negotiate were all in favour of the employer. I do hope that the legislation includes contractors that work for only one company. Many large companies have floaters who are true independent contractors but the tax office started forcing us to all become employees. The upshot was as an independent contractor & working Mum I could not manage my 3 children without the flexibility of contracting, child care is simply too expensive. Once the tax office forced us under the banner of employees it was no longer worth working at all. All we hear is unions bleating on about workers being denied their rights when they are casual or contracting but they fail to realise that many workers depend on that flexibility.
So here’s a mum who can’t work because the Tax Office has stopped her and bad contracts blocked her.

There’s a LOT more work to be done before the Tax Office starts behaving fairly. They are entrepreneurial wreckers. But at least we have improvement on the contracts front.

ICA Executive Director Ken Phillips discussed these issues on YouTube with our friends from the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self Employed in the UK in early 2014.

The message is getting out. An article in HC-Online last month made the point that:
Over the past year, Australia’s freelance market saw a surge of 370,000 workers – with a third of the national workforce now participating in freelance work.
That contrasts markedly with a fall in union membership by about 300,000, now down to 11 per cent of the private-sector workforce. Self-employed people are around 19 per cent of the workforce – ALL in the private sector. But it’s not unregulated, nor should it be!

The HC-Online article made an important point saying:

According to (Peter) Acheson (of PeopleBank), there are three core components to making flexible agreements work:

  • Integrity around contracts
  • Integrity around the tax system
  • An inexpensive dispute resolution process
“A free market is not necessarily an unregulated market,” Acheson said.
We agree. It’s about appropriate, balanced regulation.
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