The Independent Contractors Act 2006 (Commonwealth) came into force in 2007 and for all intents and purposes replaced the practical jurisdictions of its State equivalents in those States which had established means by which independent contractors could have grievances with their principals ventilated in a tribunal. New South Wales had developed a particularly healthy jurisdiction.
The current Federal Act allows the Federal Court to set aside and vary “services contracts” which are regarded as unfair or harsh. In determining whether such a contract is to be categorized as such the Court looks at the contract in the light inter alia of the respective bargaining powers of the parties, whether unfair tactics were used in negotiating the contract and whether the contractor will receive remuneration for services which are comparable to that of an employee performing similar work (sec 15).
To meet the necessary constitutional hook for the legislation, the Act applies (sec 5) to services contracts between a principal and an independent contractor with “the requisite constitutional connection” in much the same way as the Fair Work Act applies to constitutional corporations and their employees.
One consequence of this is that the Act does not apply to services contracts which relate to the private or domestic purposes of the principal, which means that the Court cannot look at a contract between a home occupant and a lawn mowing contractor but can review in most cases the contract between a principal which is a company and a self employed independent contractor.