Independent contractors and the general protections

An independent contractor is covered by the general protections provisions of the Fair Work Act.

What is an independent contractor?

An independent contractor undertakes to produce a given result, but is not, in the actual execution of the work, under the order or control of the person for whom it is done. The fundamental characteristic of an independent contractor (as compared to an employee) is that the independent contractor provides a service to the principal while working in their own business.

In the general protections provisions of the Act, the term ‘independent contractor’ is not confined to persons providing services in the form of labour which would otherwise be performed by an employee, and extends to any person (including large corporations) carrying on the business of a contractor that provides services, irrespective of scale, including where any number of persons are employed to carry on the business’s functions.

Prospective independent contractors

The general protections provisions apply to a person (the principal) proposing to enter into a contract for services with an independent contractor who takes action against the independent contractor or a person employed or engaged by the independent contractor. The provisions thereby protect prospective independent contractors and their employees and other persons engaged by them. They cover not just independent contractors who are proposed to be engaged, but also potential independent contractors whose engagement is under consideration or in prospect.