Troy Rollo wrote:
"Contractors" you are really casual employees with a cool nameDepending on the circumstances this may be sham contracting. The Fair Work Ombudsman has been quite aggressive about going after sham contracting arrangements lately. Just because the agreement says "contractor", that does not make it an independent contracting arrangement. Of course telling the difference can be difficult.
I have some experience with the definition of "contractor" issue in another context.
Can you work on other commercial projects at the same time? You are an independent contractor if you are offering your services on the open market to all comers, as say a plumber or a domestic cleaner does, in which case the person who employs you cannot prevent you working on another project, even during normal working hours.
Another test is whether the contractor carries a financial risk - eg: "I will complete this project for the contract price even if it takes twice as long as I expected". Conversely, you get the same money if you complete in half the time.
There are several other tests too (listed somewhere on the ATO website), but I suspect many "contractors" would fail those two.
To make matters more complicated, different instrumentalities have different tests as to what makes someone an independent contractor, for instance workcover and the ATO.
Employers tend to use the test: "can i get away with it and also have it cost me less money"
That's just my own bitter experience. Don't take it as gospel. I'm not a professional. I'm not even a lawyer :)