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‘Employee-like’ reforms an attack on small business


The building and construction industry will today launch a campaign to defend the right of hundreds of thousands of independent contractors and self-employed tradies to be their own boss.

More than half of Australian voters agree the proposed one size fits all ‘employee-like’ industrial relations reforms will increase costs and red tape for small businesses who use independent contractors and harm independent contractors, subbies and freelancers outside of the gig economy.

Research by independent firm Insightfully shows this concern is even higher in the building and construction industry with 72 per cent of the workforce agreeing these reforms will negatively impact small business.

Master Builders Australia CEO Denita Wawn said the proposed ‘employee-like’ policy goes beyond the government’s purported original scope of supporting gig workers and leaves the door open to swallow industries across the economy including independent contractors and self-employed tradies.

“The Government has failed to ease the concerns of the 440,000 businesses in the building and construction industry; 98 per cent of them being a small business.

“The dynamic nature and array of specialist contractors required on a project mean it is simply not feasible for businesses to have to permanently employ independent contractors.

“Independent contractors and subbies have worked hard to establish their businesses, build strong relationships, and enjoy the freedom to choose how they operate.

“The government is threatening to strip contractors of their hard-earned independence, and they deserve better.

“These laws are completely inconsistent with the long-held concepts that underpin the workplace relations system.

“Tradies are taking action to stand up for their rights. These reforms represent one of the most significant and real attacks on the rights of self-employed and independent contractors.

“We all know Aussies including in the building and construction industry are doing it tough and these changes introduce uncertainty, commercial risk, and negative consequences for the community and consumers.

“Why are we proposing even more costs for small business that will ultimately end up hurting workers?

“We don’t use subcontracting because we’re trying to drive down wages or avoid employing people. We use subcontracting because that’s the way that building work is performed.

“We should be addressing the productivity challenges in the sector not bulldozing the industry,” said Ms Wawn.

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Media contact: Dee Zegarac, National Director, Media & Public Affairs
0400 493 071 |

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