Defend your rights to be your own boss.
Australians deserve the right to be their own boss
New radical industrial relations laws currently before the Federal Parliament could mean trouble for you and hundreds of thousands of Australian workers.
The Bill impacts all businesses, subcontractors and independent contractors. It is riddled with changes that will add increased costs to businesses and consumers at a time when households are struggling with the cost of living.
Simply put, the Government has not made a case for these changes. They have not explained how these laws will lift wages, boost productivity or make it easier to create more jobs.
This Bill is not about ‘closing loopholes’ but ties a rope around the hands of businesses and independent contractors.
More than 1.1 million people choose to be an independent contractor in Australia. They’re working in every sector of the Australian economy.
The Federal Government’s proposed laws mean independent contractors and subcontractors won’t have the freedom to choose the hours they work, the projects they work on, or negotiate their own fees and conditions.
Instead, they could be forced to become an employee or spend unnecessary time and money in front of the Fair Work Commission to defend their right to own and run their business.
Independent contractors and subcontractors deserve the right to be their own boss.
These laws undermine the core traditions and beliefs of Australians – a fair go for everyone.
Independent contractors and small business have worked hard to establish their businesses, built strong relationships, and enjoy the freedom to choose how they operate but these laws put an end to this.
Join the #DefendYourRights campaign by:
- Signing the petition.
- Filling in the survey.
- Sending a letter to your MP.
- Donate to the campaign.
- Sharing how these proposed reforms will affect you on social media.
Together, we can protect the rights of Australian workers and build a better future for all of us!
Defend Your Rights
Sign the petition to defend the rights of contractors to be their own boss.
Complex and unworkable
Small businesses do not have HR departments. Industrial relations laws need to be clear and simple that protect the rights of workers and business owners.
How can we expect small business owners to stop working on their business and spend time trawling through hundreds of pages of legislation or be forced to appear before the employment tribunal to prove they have done nothing wrong?
Here’s an example of some of the changes:
- The Bill and explanatory memorandum is over 800 pages long – and that’s just the changes! It doesn’t include the 1,200+ pages of the existing Fair Work Act.
- The definition of a ’casual‘ is three pages long and includes over 10 factors, which ’must all be considered but do not necessarily need to be satisfied’. It includes new fines and back pay for businesses that get it wrong.
- Broad definitions of ‘same job’ and ‘same pay’ mean a worker with decades of experience will by law have to be paid the same workers who have just started working for another employer if they are working at the same site. These rules will mean employers will stop giving bonuses and incentives that reward their people for hard work and experience.
- Independent contractors, such as self-employed tradies, will be forced into the employment tribunal and lose the freedom to be their own boss.
- The Fair Work Commission will be given the power to ‘approve’ agreements between big business and unions that fix prices in commercial contracts throughout supply chains and impose commercial terms and conditions on small businesses.
- Unions would have more powers than police to enter workplaces and conduct search and seizures. These would extend to any workplace and any office of a business.
- Workplaces would be required to pay for union delegates to attend ‘training’ and undertake union work during work hours. One union leader has said this should just be ‘the cost of doing business’.
Join us in saying no to these damaging reforms. Join the movement today and make your voice heard.
Together, we can protect the rights of Australian workers and build a better future for all of us!
Tell your local MP and Senators how you feel
Add your name and ask the government to ensure we can continue building a better future for all Australians.
Emergency local business meeting
Register to attend a local meeting of businesses and learn more about how your rights are under attack.
Frequently asked questions
While there are some positive elements in the Bill, when considered overall, it will be bad news for most employers.
It will replace many parts of existing workplace laws that are clear, simple and work well, and replace them with new rules that are far more complex, unclear and will change depending on the individual workplace and particular circumstances involved. This will see a big increase in red-tape and legal risks about workplace laws, made worse by new and far bigger penalties for employers who get it wrong.
Unions and delegates will get many more rights than everyone else and the onus will be on employers to prove they’ve done nothing wrong if it is alleged that they’ve not complied with the new laws.
Many parts of the Bill operate on the basis that they will apply to all employers and workplaces by default, requiring people to go before the Fair Work Commission to prove why they shouldn’t apply instead of having others prove why they should.
Crucial parts of the proposed changes still aren’t known as they will be “prescribed by regulations” which won’t be released until after it becomes law. This not only means we won’t totally know how the Bill will operate or who it will capture, but also means the Government can fundamentally change how the laws work in practice by the stroke of a pen at any time.
If passed as introduced, the new laws will require employers to spend far more hours working on compliance and red-tape, greater uncertainty and increased legal risk. This will make it far harder for employers who need to estimate costs in advance, make future business plans or tender for new work.
No. If it was truly about closing loopholes the proposed changes would simply fill gaps in the existing law if there was evidence that they were being unfairly exploited by some employers. Instead, this Bill actually throws out existing rules that are unlawful and legitimate, and replaces them with entirely different rules which apply to all employers.
Many of the existing rules have been independently assessed by courts and tribunals and found to be working fairly and simply – for example, the High Court upheld rules about casuals and independent contractors as recently as 2021 – the same rules that the Bill will now radically change and overturn.
There is no doubt that, if passed, the changes in the Bill will have big impacts for all employers and businesses across the board. For example this impacts the building and construction which is an industry underpinned by the use of subcontractors and independent self-employed tradie contractors.
Although the Government has said it is not their intention to capture independent contractors, this isn’t how the Bill is written. In fact, nothing in the relevant sections provides a clear or definitive exemption for independent contractors in building and construction – something that would be expected if that’s what the Government intended or how they wanted it to operate.
The door is well and truly open to capture independent contractors in industries outside of the rideshare and food delivery. Many independent experts and organisations have said the same thing and reached the same conclusion.
Yes. The way this section of the Bill is written operates on the basis that an order can be made to apply the ‘Same Job, Same Pay’ changes to any workplace using an Enterprise Bargaining Agreement (EBA). This will mean a subcontractor will need to contest the order which means they will have to go to the Fair Work Commission to make submissions and provide evidence to seek an exemption. In other words, subcontractors are “in” unless they take the time to argue their way “out”.
Even then, there are no guarantees that subcontractors will satisfy all the considerations that the Commission ‘may’ have regard to (including any prescribed by regulation that we don’t know about).
The Bill contains several areas where the Fair Work Commission can make legally binding orders that unilaterally change the status of an independent contractor or reduce their rights to run their own business and make their own decisions. These include the proposed changes to the tests of ‘employee v independent contractor’ and the new ‘employee-like’ provisions.
A key flaw in the Bill is that many of its provisions operate in such a way that it will apply to everyone, unless you can prove otherwise. This means businesses will need to go to the Fair Work Commission and prove why something shouldn’t apply to you, rather than being specifically targeted to address particular problems.
The Bill will now be subject to the usual processes of the Parliament who will debate the proposed changes and conduct specially convened inquiries into the changes and what they will mean. A final vote on the Bill won’t be expected before early 2024, but could possibly happen earlier if that is what the Government decides to do.
Will the new laws negatively impact your ability to make a living?
Let us know by sharing your story below
Protect your rights to work when and where you like.
Every dollar of support we receive goes to ensuring your voice has an impact on issues that matter.
Disclaimer: American Express is currently not accepted.
Submission to the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations ‘Same Job, Same Pay’ consultation paper
Submission to the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations discussion paper on ‘Employee like’ forms of work
Join the campaign and get regular updates
Show your support
Show your support for by purchasing our campaign merchandise. All proceeds from sales go towards supporting our campaign.