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She’s been sacked because she’s voting ‘No’. She’s a contractor. What are her rights?

Friday, September 22, 2017

We were contacted this week by news outlets. They wanted our comment on the young woman who’s been sacked because she’s voting ‘No’ in the marriage equality poll. The ‘line’ being run by some commentators is that because the woman was apparently an independent contractor that she is in a vulnerable situation.

We replied to the journalists to clarify the facts. We thought the information we supplied the journalists might be of help in understanding the self-employed situation.
a) Unfair dismissal: It appears that the woman was working for only a short period of time for a children’s party business. If she was an employee, then she would not be eligible to take an unfair dismissal action. Such action is only available to employees once they have worked for 12 months or more (with a small business). Certainly, if she was an independent contractor, she would not be eligible to take unfair dismissal action.

b) Anti-discrimination law: It does not matter whether you are an employee or an independent contractor. Under both situations, if you are discriminated against, you are entitled to take action. It appears that this sacked woman has decided not to take action.

One of the things we find when we defend self-employed people is that there are many attempts to portray self-employed people as being ‘unprotected’. However, when you look at specific ‘protections’ at law, they apply in different ways. Or the assumed protections of employees actually don’t exist.

We believe that it’s necessary to deal with the facts. In the situation with this ‘No’-voting young woman, whether she was an employee or independent contractor was/is of no practical difference in terms of her rights in openly expressing her opinion.

But that’s not to say that there’s not a lot of work to be done to secure the rights of self-employed, independent contractor people. You’ll see from our huge activity in making submissions to inquiries that there’s much to be done.
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