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From the Desk of the Executive Director

Ken Phillips is co-founder and Executive Director of Independent Contractors of Australia. He is a published authority on independent contractor issues and directs research on related commercial and trade practices issues. Through his numerous articles in newspapers and think-tank and academic journals, Ken is known for approaching issues from outside normal perspectives and is frequently sought out for media comment.

Some revolutionary thoughts for the New Year

Saturday, December 31, 2016

2016 a year of revolution
The Foreign Affairs Editor for The Australian, Greg Sheridan, has described 2016 as a year of revolution.  From Brexit to Trump, the rise and (current) fall of ISIL, global terrorism, the game play of Putin, military muscle-exercising by China and the election of the drug-pusher killer President of the Philippines all indicate revolutionary shifts from the status quo. Sheridan says that 2016 will be seen by historians as a “fundamental year of change of direction on par with other great pivot points of global history”. More...


Gig economy and unfair contract laws suit self-employed

Friday, November 18, 2016

Two current events occurring some 17,000km apart reveal regulatory tension over the “gig” economy. One event tears at the new economy while the other is working with this economic change.

Last weekend, Australia’s unfair contract laws covering small business people began. Late last month, a precedent-setting judgment in London declared two of Uber’s 40,000 British drivers to be employees and thus entitled to minimum wages.

The Australian event is accommodating the gig economy within a regulatory framework. The London event assaults the structural heart of the gig economy. More...


Why the new unfair contract laws are good news for soloists

Monday, August 08, 2016

Brendan is a persistent fella. He’s a highly skilled IT consultant. Don’t ask me what he actually does. He tried to explain to me once but it was way beyond me.

What I do know with Brendan is that he has a high sense of justice. He gets really angry when a client ‘screws’ him over.  More...


How the ATO is oppressing small business

Thursday, March 19, 2015

The scariest thing about being a small businessperson in Australia is not the ‘normal’ commercial risks of business but rather that you’ll be targeted by the Australian Taxation Office. This is the conclusion that can be drawn from two official reviews of how the ATO deals with small businesspeople.

The first report is the Board of Taxation’s Review of Tax Impediments Facing Small Business released in February. (You can read my summary and comments here.) The second comes from the Inspector-General of Taxation into The Management of Tax Disputes released this month. (Again, you can read my summary and comments on this report here.) More...


Uber lessons in disruption

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Taxi alternative Uber is throwing all the rules about hiring a car with driver out the (taxi) window.

In turning the taxi industry upside down, Uber is causing political storms across North America. The controversy in Australia has only just begun.

It’s just one example of our “disruption addiction”.

Once, keeping everything the same made people feel comfortable. Now we’ve become the ­disruption generation, accommo­da­ting disruption in deeply personal ways. More...


International Policy Discussion

Sunday, April 06, 2014

This video explores the freelance landscape across the world with Ken Phillips representing contractors in Australia, Professor Patricia Leighton outlining her research into the rise of independent working across Europe and Simon McVicker discussing freelancing in the UK More...


Turn yourself into a brand

Sunday, December 15, 2013

If you don’t ‘brand’ yourself when you’re self-employed, your capacity to be your own business and make good money is diminished. This is an important message I took from a presentation at the Pan-Asia small business conference in Macau in November.

The presentation by Dr Paul Temporal of Oxford University explained how successful global companies create and maintain brands. More importantly, he identified precisely what a brand is. The messages Paul was delivering are as applicable to self-employed, small business people as they are to large businesses. More...


Freelance workers: hits and myths

Friday, November 29, 2013

Human resource management systems and the professionals who run them are failing to manage a big percentage of their workforces.

This view comes from the admissions of senior HR professionals at a series of workshops and seminars I’ve attended recently. More...


Australia got caught out by Freelancer.com

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The launch of Freelancer.com onto the Australian stock market last week created great excitement. Upon listing, its 50 cent shares skyrocketed to $2.60 settling at $1.60. Commentators referred to it as potentially Australia’s Twitter.

The story underpinning the share market hype reflects not just a new age technology but rather a transformation in the way business and work is organised. Freelancer highlights how the transformation is expanding and will continue to overpower human resource practices inside large organisations, labour and tax laws and the very idea of what constitutes a business.  More...



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