Who is covered?

The independent contractor laws apply to you if the hirer of your services contract is:

  • a constitutional corporation
  • the Australian Government
  • a resident of an Australian territory, such as the Northern Territory or the Australian Capital Territory.

The laws also apply if:

  • the contract was entered into in a territory
  • the services will be performed in a territory, or
  • one of the parties lives in a territory.

Independent contractors and employees are covered by the Independent Contractors laws. However, the government recognises that owner-drivers and contract outworkers need specific protections for their working conditions and contractual arrangements.

Employee or Contractor?

You will need to determine whether you are an independent contractor or employee to find out if the Australian Government independent contractor laws apply to you.

Independent contractors tend to run their own businesses and are generally free to negotiate their own fees and working arrangements. Unlike most employees who work to a single employer, independent contractors may provide services to a wide range of clients.

Employees, however, have set minimum legal entitlements, such as payment of wages and hours of work. Courts look at all the circumstances of a working relationship to decide who is an independent contractor and who is an employee.

This online Contractor decision tool can help you better understand whether you are an independent contractor or an employee.


The Independent Contractors Act does not apply to owner-drivers in New South Wales, Victoria and Western Australia because state laws provide protections in these states. These are:

Owner-drivers in all other states and territories are covered by the Independent Contractors Act 2006.

The national Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal aims to increase safe driving practices by setting pay or pay-related conditions. This Tribunal commenced operation on 1 July 2012.


Independent contractors who are outworkers in the textile, clothing and footwear industry (also known as 'contract outworkers') receive protection under the Fair Work Act 2009 and under various state laws. Further information is available from the Fair Work Ombudsman.

The Fair Work Ombudsman is an independent agency that ensures the rights and obligations of workers and that employees are understood and enforced fairly.

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