When you’re not an “employee”: Differences between employees, contractors and volunteers
Who is an “employee”?
The rules and processes in the Employment Relations Act apply to employers, employees, and unions.
An “employee” is any person, whatever their age, who’s employed by an employer to do any work for hire or reward under a contract of service. “Contract of service” is the legal term used to describe the type of contract you work under if you’re an employee; by contrast, independent contractors work under a “contract for services”.
The Act covers all employees, whether they are:
- full-time or part-time
- permanent, casual or fixed-term
- adult or young employees.
You’re also an “employee” if you are:
- a homeworker – that is, you work for somebody else in your own home (other than working on the house or on its fittings or furniture), or
- intending to work – that is, you’ve accepted a job offer but haven’t yet started the work.
Who’s not an “employee”?
You’re not an employee if:
- you’re an independent contractor – in that case you’re covered by the general law of contract instead (see “Independent Contractors” in this chapter)
- you’re a volunteer who doesn’t receive or expect to receive reward for their work (see “Volunteers”)
- you work in film production or video-game production (for example, actors, stunt performers and extras), unless your employment agreement says you’re an employee.