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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.

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...


Hits and misses in the Productivity Commission's IR review

Wednesday, August 05, 2015

Australian unions will be delighted with the Productivity Commission review of the workplace relations framework released yesterday. Finally unions might be able to run another ‘it’s the horror of WorkChoices’ scare campaign. They’ve been longing for this since Abbott won government.

Unions have taken a beating in the Royal Commission into union corruption. The exposure of payola from corporations lining union financial coffers has been most embarrassing. It shows unions to be frequently more chummy with corporates than with employees. What a relief for unions that the Productivity Commission has recommended a cut in weekend penalty rates; it provides a handy shift of public focus. More...


Small business budget redefines the Coalition

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

This is a highly political budget, as are all budgets. But this time it’s political in a different way.

The Labor Party brand themselves with their century-long moral mantra of the ‘working man’. Liberals historically have allowed their branding to be defined by the negative ‘bosses party’ image. This budget breaks that mould. For the Coalition it’s a brand re-positioning budget.

It’s definitely not a big bosses’ budget. The government claims it’s “the biggest small business initiative in our nation’s history”. It’s a claim probably justified on the detail of the package. More...


Small business policy is greater than the sum of its parts

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

It’s a bit of a magician’s act to make something big out of something small. But that’s the task the Abbott Government has put before it in staking so much of its economic credentials on the small business sector.

However, when you realise that over 60 per cent of the workforce work in SMEs, the government is not playing a magician’s game but responding to a hard-core economic reality. As the mining boom winds back, small business has to be a primary target for jobs growth. It’s already been announced that next week’s budget will strongly feature small business incentives. More...


Small retailers will suffer the ultimate penalty

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The political uproar that is the debate over penalty rates could almost be a hysterical comedy written for Australians by the ghost of Shakespeare.

Think of it. Some months ago as Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s popularity polling was crashing, he dared utter the thought bubble that penalty rates should be reformed. There was uproar from his surrogate political opponents, the union movement, headed by the ACTU. 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...


Pay for cooks shows IR madness

Thursday, May 09, 2013

 If there is a single example that the Australian industrial relations system has lost all balance and common sense, it's in the pay rates to cooks working on ships involved in the oil and gas industries. The cooks are on a $230,000 package for a rotating roster and they effectively work only six months a year. More...


Hospitality penalty rates killing our weekend cafe society


Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Penalty rate hikes in awards, particularly weekend and public holiday rates, are causing Australia to undergo a backward revolution. It's a step into the past by stealth. Restrictive trading hours are being imposed through the mechanism of business-breaking cost hikes. More...


Riding the tidal wave of self-employment

Thursday, April 04, 2013

There’s a cultural and economic shift that’s been underway for a while, but is now feeding into local and global political positioning. The impact on business strategy is not far away.

The considerable presence of self-employment in developed economies (around 20 per cent of workforces) is finally feeding into government policy. In this year's State of the Union address, US President Obama emphasised the importance of small business in a jobs-led recovery. More...


457 visas about union control

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Even though Julia Gillard's comments against 457 visa workers have horrible undertones of historical Labor racism, they aren't racist. Instead Labor, in my opinion, is involved in an old-fashioned protection racket of entrenched power and money. More...



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