COVID-19: You can find information and stay up-to-date on the latest support for business on our coronavirus page or by calling 13 28 46.×

You are here:

Protections at work

Under the Fair Work Act 2009, independent contractors are protected from:

  • adverse action – for example, a business cannot terminate a contract with an independent contractor because they make a complaint to a regulator about their workplace rights
  • coercion –  for example, a business cannot threaten to take action against an independent contractor to coerce them not to exercise their workplace rights
  • abuses of freedom of association – independent contractors are free to join, or not join, a trade union or employer group

Unfair contracts

The Independent Contractors Act 2006 allows independent contractors to ask a court to review a contract on the grounds that it is 'unfair' or 'harsh'. The court may consider:

  • the terms of the contract when it was made
  • the relative bargaining strengths of the contract parties and, if applicable, anyone acting on their behalf
  • whether there was any undue influence or pressure, or any unfair tactics used against, a party to the contract
  • whether the contract provides remuneration that is less than that of an employee doing similar work
  • any other matters the court thinks is relevant

The court may order:

  • the terms of the contract to be changed (for example, they may be added or removed)
  • the whole contract, or part of the contract be 'set aside' (that is, have no effect)
  • Need help?

  • Contact us for help with your application or to find out more.

  • Monday – Friday, 8am – 8pm across Australia

Sham contracting

If you have been engaged as a contractor but believe you’re an employee, you may be in a sham contracting arrangement.

A sham contracting arrangement is when an employer attempts to disguise an employment relationship as a contractor relationship. They may do this to avoid certain taxes and their responsibility for employee entitlements like:

  • minimum wages
  • superannuation
  • leave

It’s illegal for an employer to:

  • misrepresent an employment relationship as an independent contracting arrangement
  • dismiss or threaten to dismiss an employee for the purpose of engaging them as a contractor
  • say something false to persuade an employee to become a contractor

Help for sham contracting arrangements

If you think you may be in a sham contracting arrangement, you can ask for help from the:

Work health and safety

All workers in Australia are entitled to a safe and healthy workplace. This means that employers — including self-employed contractors — must comply with the relevant state or territory's workplace health and safety laws.

Read next