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Advocacy Group urges caution in government’s redefinition of sole traders

Entrepreneurial & Small Business Women Australia (ESBWA), an advocacy organization representing the interests of female entrepreneurs and small business owners across Australia, is calling on the government to exercise caution as it contemplates revising the definition of independent contractors.

In a submission to the inquiry into the Fair Work Legislation Amendment (Closing Loopholes) Bill, ESBWA highlights the potential risks of altering the definition of independent contractors, which could impact both the 1.1 million individuals currently working as independent contractors and the small businesses they contract with.

ESBWA, representing a robust community of over 12,500 female business owners, expresses concerns that amendments to the bill may impose overly burdensome conditions on businesses.

Amanda Rose, CEO and founder of ESBWA, emphasizes, “Empowering women financially is a true test of the government’s commitment to gender equality. Ignoring the needs of female business owners in this legislative amendment would be a regressive step.”

ESBWA argues that the proposed changes could result in a loss of flexibility for independent contractors and hinder the growth of small businesses, particularly those led by women.

The bill’s alterations may jeopardize the autonomy of sole traders by making it more challenging for them to secure contracts with larger businesses. The additional costs imposed on businesses, such as insurance and leave loading for contractors, may deter them from outsourcing work to sole traders. This could force many female sole traders to work longer hours or accept more contracts to maintain their income, negating the benefits that initially attracted them to gig work.

Amanda Rose asserts, “Female sole traders are drawn to the gig economy because of its flexibility, which allows them to balance multiple responsibilities while earning income on their own terms. Changing the sole trader definition could limit women’s options for business growth and financial independence.”

Faced with the increased requirements for hiring contractors, businesses may opt to hire employees or exclusively engage with proprietary limited companies. Although unintended, these proposed changes could hinder the progress of businesses reliant on the cost-effectiveness and agility of contractors to expand.

ESBWA emphasizes the need for legislators to consider the distinct needs of female independent contractors to safeguard the potential of this growing sector.

Amanda Rose emphasizes, “When we overlook the concerns of female business owners, we sideline a significant portion of our economy. Women-led businesses make substantial contributions to our national growth, and their voices must be at the forefront of this inquiry.”

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