ICTRA supports Labor's stance on independent contracting

Political consensus reached

The Information Technology Contract and Recruitment Association (ITCRA) today pledged its support for the Labor Party's policy on IT contracting which was passed at the ALP's national conference last month.

ITCRA executive director, Norman Lacy, said Labor has made a significant shift in its position which means now there is little difference between the Howard government's stance and that of the Opposition.

Lacy said the ALP supports the principle that independent contractors are governed by commercial law and not employment law.

"It signifies that there is now a political consensus on the central policy principles that underpin independent contracting," he said.

"As a result, there is now little difference between the Howard Government and the Rudd led Opposition in respect to a legal framework that supports 1.9 million workers.

"This political consensus is highly welcome by the ICT industry including its recruitment sector."

At the national conference Labor said it recognises the ILO principle that genuine independent contractors are governed by commercial law, while employees are governed by employment law.

Labor also supports the imperative that independent contractors have access to low-cost, timely and informal dispute resolution procedures in respect of their employment and commercial disputes ensuring such avenues are available.

The platform states the opposition supports the choice of Australians to pursue a career as independent contractors reducing business regulation affecting small business, including reductions in and greater harmonisation of federal, state and local government business regulation.

"ITCRA sees these statements as a significant and welcome breakthrough for Australian independent contractors in the ICT industry. It is particularly welcome that the commercial legal framework in which independent contractors work is recognised as a policy principle by the ALP," Lacy said.

Labor also made clear at the conference that it opposes sham contractor arrangements where employees are re-classified as contractors by employers to avoid obligations such as superannuation guarantee payments, workers' compensation coverage and the payment of annual leave and sick leave entitlements.

Lacy said there are two areas in need of urgent attention including greater consistency across states in occupational health and safety laws, plus steps need to be taken to clarify workers compensation.

He said there is confusion across states about who can receive workers compensation.

Lacy described the ALP's political shift as proof of the association's success in lobbying.

He said it even surpasses enactment of the Independent Contractors Act in December, 2006.

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