Industrial relations changes risk bulldozing tradies

The freedom of choice for tradies to be their own boss is under threat, with the Federal Government proposing to force independent contractors to give up their business to become an employee, says Master Builders Australia CEO Denita Wawn.
Master Builders Australia has released its response to the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations discussion paper on ‘Employee like’ forms of work and stronger protections for independent contractors.

Master Builders Australia vehemently opposes the ’employee-like’ policy and urges the Government to restrict its scope solely to gig workers, as purportedly intended.

“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. This includes well-established forms of work, including independent contractors and self-employed tradies,” Ms Wawn said.

“The building and construction industry is made up of around 440,000 businesses, with over 264,000 of them being independent contractors, representing one in five workers.

“For decades, the industry has attracted individuals who choose to go out and be their own boss and have the freedom to choose the hours they work, the projects they work on, who they work for and negotiate their own fees and conditions.

“If the policy is implemented as foreshadowed in this paper, it will fundamentally upend and damage the entire building and construction industry which is founded on a model of specialist contract work arising from the way in which building work is performed.

“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, and critically, it takes away the rights of independent contractors to run their own business.

“The ‘employee-like’ measure represents one of the most significant and real attacks on the rights of self-employed and independent contractors.

“The proposed changes pose a serious threat, introducing uncertainty, commercial risk, and negative consequences for the community, consumers, and an industry already grappling with disruptions, economic uncertainty, and high inflation.

“Master Builders Australia strongly urges the Federal Government to explicitly exclude the building and construction industry from their employee-like industrial law changes to protect the sector’s integrity and the rights of independent contractors,” said Ms Wawn.