IT brawl erupts over South Australian employment law changes

IT brawl erupts over South Australian employment law changes

A cloud of uncertainty and a war of words have engulfed IT contractors, employers and casual employees because of proposed employment law changes to go before the South Australian Parliament tonight.

The changes potentially affect how organizations hire their IT staff in South Australia, with approximately 7000 IT contractors work and based in South Australia.

According to employer groups, the South Australian Industrial Relations (Fair Work) Bill will allow union access to any workplace should they employ any potential union members.

The Bill goes before South Australian parliament today and if passed may give casual employees the right to change their employment status to full-time employees after six months upon agreement by the contractor.

As full-time employees, casuals could also access holiday pay, sick leave and other entitlements.

Employer groups have warned that if passed, the new law will see an exodus of investment and jobs from South Australia.

Ken Phillips, Independent Contractors Association executive director warned the Bill was dangerously vague about where employment and contractual obligations began and ended in South Australia.

"This Bill is in Noddy land...people have a right to choose to be an employee and for IT workers it is normal to move in and out of contracting or in-house employee roles," Phillips said

"We have creative IT people in Australia and this Bill will stifle their creativity. Contractors in the IT sector don't have an employee mentality; they have a business mindset, they take risks and innovate, even though they don't always win.

Phillips also complained the Bill failed to define whether "anyone who works at home, like a contractor, or small business owner is an employee, but of whom [self or a company] I don't know".

A spokesperson for SA Industrial Relations Minister Michael Wright countered that the Bill does not change the existing law about who is and who is not a contractor in South Australia, but would not enter into specifics.

South Australian shadow Industrial Relations Minister Iain Evans labelled the Bill a union grab. "Union officials can have access to any workplace, which means if you are a contractor and work from home you have to provide access to documents that prove whether you are a contractor or employee and whether or not you are underpaying, overpaying, or meeting certain obligations," Evans said.

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