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Strata engineering helping to define our roles

Being in the strata engineering industry we are provided with the latest news from various bodies in our industry.

A recent article from the Strata Community Australia website has discussed an interesting and certainly relevant topic for any structural engineer in Sydney or any engineer who deals with strata engineering.

Owner’s corporations regularly engage independent contractors such as structural engineer consultants and various tradesmen to carry out tasks such as maintenance and repairs and also employ persons as facility or building managers.

The article goes on to discuss that both a contractor and an employee provide their labour for financial remuneration. So how is an employee providing personal services for hire to be distinguished from a contractor, and particularly an independent contractor, who also provides personal services for hire?

It makes no difference whether that person is considered by the owners corporation to be an employee or a contractor, or has an ABN. A court will look to the real substance of the relationship with the owners corporation, the person’s role and function, the nature and interaction between the person and the owners corporation.

The court uses the “smell test” or its intuition to consider the following factors: is the person providing services to the owners corporation as an owner who operates the business; and in providing the services, is the person working in and for that person’s business as a representative of that business, and of the business receiving the work?

Overall, working within the industry amongst many other professionals our experience has been that roles are usually defined before any work is begun and most strata managers are aware when they are subcontracting or employing but the lines can be crossed if not properly communicated from the beginning.