It is the job of the Real Estate Institutes and real estate groups to train principals on HR and industrial relations issues, including how contractor arrangements should be handled, a senior industry executive has claimed.
“The big groups have a responsibility to educate principals and agents and to outline changes in legislation,” Starr Partners CEO, Douglas Driscoll, told Real Estate Business.
“There is far more focus on HR these days, and this should be a focus for the big groups because many principals don’t quite grasp the ins and outs of industrial relations.
"They are real estate agents, not HR practitioners.”
Mr Driscoll’s comments were in response to the latest Real Estate Business straw poll, which revealed that over 76 per cent of respondents believed principals should be able to employ sales agents on a contractor basis. The online poll, which was conducted between February 23 and March 6, showed 371 of the 484 respondents said principals should be able to employ contractors, while just fewer than four per cent were undecided.
“These results are not surprising because at the end of the day real estate is like any other business with an ever-changing market place. Companies need to be able to adapt to conditions,” Mr Driscoll said.
“Employing an agent on a contractor basis gives you the flexibility to move around in our marketplace and it is unfortunate that HR rules and regulations tend to be more biased towards employees.”
This straw poll comes after the recent news that the Fair Work Ombudsman is clamping down on agencies not paying workers correctly. The latest incident involved two Queensland agents who are under investigation for allegedly paying a contractor just $100 for five months work. Fair Work claimed the agent should have been considered an employee under employment law.
“Many principals simply have no clue about the parameters of HR and many of these issues surrounding agents not being paid properly, I believe, stem from ignorance, not intentional neglect,” Mr Driscoll added.