Sham contracting education campaign begins

13 April 2011

The Fair Work Ombudsman is targeting the unlawful practice of sham contracting in a new education and compliance campaign.

Fair Work inspectors hope to educate tens of thousands of workers around the country who may be vulnerable to sham contracting arrangements.

They will also audit employers in sectors at risk of breaching sham contracting provisions of workplace laws, such as the hair and beauty, cleaning and call centre industries.

Fair Work Ombudsman Executive Director Michael Campbell says the campaign is in response to intelligence from various sources and concerns raised by key stakeholders, including employee and employer groups and members of parliament.

"Sham contracting occurs when an employer disguises or misrepresents an employment relationship as an independent contracting arrangement," he said.

"It is vital we ensure workers are classified correctly because if they are incorrectly classified as independent contractors they can miss out on employee entitlements such as minimum rates of pay and leave entitlements."

The Fair Work Ombudsman will distribute up to 100,000 educational brochures on contracting arrangements, starting with members of key employee and industry groups around the country.

Fair Work inspectors will also distribute brochures when they attend employment expos in Perth, Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Adelaide.

"The extensive education component of this campaign aims to help employers and workers understand the circumstances in which a worker should be classified as an employee and when they can be classified as an independent contractor," Mr Campbell said.

"We recognise that the large majority of employers want to comply with workplace laws and do the right thing by their employees and we are committed to assisting them to do that."

Employers and workers seeking advice or assistance regarding independent contracting and sham contracting can visit the Fair Work Ombudsman’s website at

They can also contact the Fair Work Infoline on 13 13 94. An interpreter service is available by calling 13 14 50.

Media inquiries:

Ryan Pedler, Senior Adviser, Media & Stakeholder Relations
(03) 9954 2561, 0411 430 902

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