A Fair Work Australia decision on who counts as an employee for the purpose of determining eligibility of a terminated worker to claim unfair dismissal has added another twist in the tale of the distinctions between an employee and a contractor.
In the case in question, FWA decided that two people whom the employer (Renown Business Solutions) engaged as independent contractors were legally classified as employees.
Those people separately provided bookkeeping and IT services through their own businesses and invoiced for their services but worked regular and consistent hours and were subject to the direction of the employer in much the same way as an employee would be.
The immediate effect of that decision for that employer is that the terminated employee is deemed eligible to make the claim of unfair dismissal because he had served 6 months and the employer had 15 or more employees at the time of dismissal.
A secondary effect is that the employer, not being a small business employer with less than 15 employees, then loses access to that degree of relief in due process that is allowed via the Fair Dismissal Code for small business employers.
And that just might be the proverbial tip of the iceberg.