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Employee or Contractor – a case of obvious confusion

Employee or Contractor – a case of obvious confusion

NG worked as CFO of Wingman Solutions until receiving notice that his role was being ‘retired’ and outsourced.

NG made an application to the Fair Work Commission seeking unpaid entitlements that he argued he was due as an employee of Wingman Solutions who had been made redundant.

As evidence, he submitted his employment agreement which had been signed by Wingman Solutions and witnessed.

Wingman Solutions argued that NG had been engaged as a subcontractor and was not entitled to any entitlements and that the employment agreement was not valid as the purported signatory claimed the agreement had been signed by his wife who later added his name.

The Fair Work Commission found that NG was indeed an employee of Wingman Solutions, and his dismissal was a case of genuine redundancy.

This is not a complicated matter, but it does highlight two important issues when it comes to contracts.

First – ensure you are using the right type of contract. If you wish to engage a worker as an employee, ensure you use an employment agreement. If you wish to engage a worker as a contractor, ensure you are using a contractor agreement. This is particularly important to remember if you are taking a DIY legal approach and using agreement found on the internet.

Second – in the absence of fraud or misrepresentation, you will be bound to the obligations of a contract you sign. Not reading or not understanding the contract you sign is not a defence.

Finally, while limited costs would have been incurred in the outing to the Commission Wingman Solutions now has its name in the law reports for posterity – far better to have obtained an hours’ advice before defending the claim – advice that would have told Wingman Solutions to pay up.

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