Federal parliament sits again for two weeks from Monday, 4 September. We’ll be back there ‘walking the halls’, knocking on the doors of parliamentarians, and ‘selling’ the good news about being self-employed—that is, of people like us who want the right to be our own boss.
The planned legislation to force self-employed people to be employees has not yet been released. We want the Senate to block this legislation. At this stage our advocacy is on concepts plus practical things to ‘protect’ self-employed people.
For example, we want government departments to be subject to the unfair contract laws. Yes, it’s staggering. The laws make it illegal for businesses to have unfair contracts, but it is perfectly legal for government departments to impose unfair contracts on people. Talk about hypocrisy! We are putting it to Senators that unfair contract laws should be extended to cover government departments.
In this aggressive political environment, with all the attacks on self-employed people, it’s super refreshing to read independent comments in praise of the self-employed. Bruce Billson is the Federal Small Business Commissioner. He’s published an opinion piece “Why it’s time to celebrate our hard-working self-employed”.
We’d really like to quote the entire article, but here’s a selection:
Self-employment already allows 1.6 million Australians to earn a reliable income while preserving autonomy and choice.
We need to understand and recognise the difference between self-employed Australians and vulnerable workers. Self-employed people are not vulnerable… there is a risk if we allow that misconception to grow – we will snuff out the flexibility that’s so valued and important to the success of self-employment.
We need to reaffirm the sound and long-standing legal distinction between ‘contracts of service’ and ‘contracts for services’… We already have rules to stamp out sham contractors…
…we must make sure we do not generate legal and compliance confusion by conflating commercial and competition matters with employment matters.
Let’s honour and value self-employed people and independent contractors for mapping out a livelihood that works for them…
Self-employed people make a valued contribution, complement the employer-employee workforce, add agility to the economy that increases productivity, delight customers and clients, and deserve to be celebrated – not strangled.
The Small Business Ombudsman is really just talking common sense. We hope that common sense will win the day over the foreshadowed small business ‘attack’ laws when they come into parliament.
And remember that if you have a small business issue (say a dispute), the Federal Small Business Ombudsman and the State Small Business Commissioners provide great, practical support services.
Here’s our four-page summary of why we oppose the proposed anti-self-employed laws, including the practical reforms we say are needed.