High Courts sensible ZG Operations v Jamsek decision good for business certainty, investment & jobs

“Today the High Court decided in the ZG Operations v Jamsek case that two truck drivers engaged by a company for more than 30 years were not employees, as they argued, but rather genuine independent contractors consistent with the terms of their engagement,” Innes Willox, Chief Executive of the national employer association Ai Group, said today.

“The Court held that ‘where parties have comprehensively committed the terms of their relationship to a written contract, the efficacy of which is not challenged on the basis that it is a sham or is otherwise ineffective under general law or statute, the characterisation of that relationship as one of employment or otherwise must proceed by reference to the rights and obligations of the parties under that contract’.

“The decision will provide more certainty to businesses which have been faced with an increase in arguments that people engaged as independent contractors have been misclassified and are entitled to the benefits of those employed as employees. The High Court’s decision is sensible, practical and fair. The outcome will increase business certainty and investment and will consequently be good for jobs.

“Applying the same principle, the High Court in a separate decision determined that a young backpacker engaged by a labour hire business to work as a labourer on construction sites was not a genuine independent contractor. The Court held that the business exerted a very high degree of control over the work of the labourer and therefore the labourer was not a genuine independent contractor.

“The High Court’s decisions highlight the ongoing workability and appropriateness of the common law tests that distinguish between an employee and an independent contractor,” Mr Willox said.

ZG Operations Australia Pty Ltd v Jamsek [2022] HCA 2 (9 February 2022)


Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union v Personnel Contracting Pty Ltd [2022] HCA 1 (9 February 2022)


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