Appco Australia class action: FAQs

FAQs

What does the class action against Appco Australia cover?

FAQs

In the Appco Australia class action, the lead applicant (Mr Bywater) has brought the claim on his own behalf and on behalf of all of the applicants who undertook face-to-face selling in the period from 20 October 2010 to date, either as an individual contractor or as a managing director of a marketing company.

The claim includes "sham contracting" allegations – in essence that:

•    all of the class action members were employees of Appco Australia and were not independent contractors and that this was a breach of the law; or

•    all of the class action members were employees of the marketing companies and were not independent contractors and the marketing companies breached the law and Appco Australia was "involved" in those breaches.

All applicants have entered into retainer and/or funding agreements with Chamberlains Law Firm and a litigation funder.

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FAQs

Does the class action currently include claims of bullying and harassment?

FAQs

No. Currently, the claims in the class action are focussed on whether or not class action members were employees or independent contractors.

The amended statement of claim in the class action does not make any allegations of bullying and harassment, despite several months of a bullying-based media campaign designed to attract publicity for the case.

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FAQs

Does Appco Group Australia believe the class action is justified?

FAQs

Appco Group Australia does not believe this class action is justified.

Appco Australia has been in business for almost 30 years and there’s never been a negative finding against Appco Australia by the Fair Work Commission or the Fair Work Ombudsman. We have always complied with all relevant regulations.

Appco Australia understands that independent contracting doesn’t appeal to everyone. But it is currently working for hundreds of people engaged to represent our clients, who enjoy what they do and their self-employed status.

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FAQs

How do you respond to the allegation of “sham contracting” – does Appco Australia really employ fundraisers/salespeople?

 

FAQs

Appco Group Australia doesn’t employ or contract any fundraisers or salespeople, and we are prepared to vigorously defend ourselves against the allegations of “sham contracting”.

The contract Appco Australia has with each marketing company stipulates that they must comply with all legal obligations around the engagement of independent contractors.

And the contract between an independent contractor and the marketing company very clearly sets out their self-employed status.

Appco Australia reviews the marketing companies sub-contracted by us to make sure they are operating in line with self-employment regulations.
So, as far as we know, all independent contractors understand the basis on which they are engaged.

They are not Appco Australia’s employees or contractors.

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FAQs

The media refers to ‘Appco workers’ and ‘Appco staff’ – why would they say this if they weren’t employed by Appco Australia?

 

FAQs

In most cases, the media appears to have based its reports on information and terminology provided by the lawyers leading the class action. We have strongly objected to this, both directly to the journalists concerned and through official complaints channels.

The use of these terms presumes the outcome of the case against us, which is a matter for the judge, not the media.

We accept that the class action makes for a valid news story. However, it is extremely inappropriate and prejudicial to report such matters with disregard for facts, context and the current legal case.

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FAQs

What is Appco Australia’s approach to the class action?

FAQs

Appco Australia believes the claim against us is weak and lacks the required legal basis for a class action, so we have applied to the court to have the case thrown out as a class action.

But if required, we will continue to defend the claim in whatever form it is brought.

We’ve been in business for almost 30 years and there’s never been a negative finding against Appco Australia by the Fair Work Commission or the Fair Work Ombudsman.

These people are genuine independent contractors – it’s that simple.

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FAQs

Why does Appco Australia use marketing companies who engage independent contractors?

 

FAQs

Our business is built on entrepreneurship. That’s why we use companies who engage independent contractors because they allow people to develop their own businesses and shape their own success.

Appco Australia engages clients and handles all account management and administration related to their direct marketing or fundraising campaigns. We are experts at this.

Appco Australia outsources the direct sales and marketing activity to specialist companies, which engage independent contractors to speak with members of the public, because that is their area of expertise.

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FAQs

Who pays the legal costs of the class action?

FAQs

In a class action legal costs are usually paid by the “losing” side, but in this case it’s not clear cut.

Even if the class action succeeds, Appco Australia may not be ordered to pay the “winning” side’s legal costs.

Instead, the costs may need to be paid by their litigation funder.

Or there’s a real possibility the costs will come out of any amount awarded to the people who joined the class action.

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FAQs

A number of videos have been released in the media – why would anyone conduct the activities shown in them?

 

FAQs

The videos show behaviour that is totally unacceptable to Appco Australia.

The videos were not filmed in Appco Australia’s offices, by Appco Australia employees or with Appco Australia’s knowledge or encouragement.

Our investigations have found that the activities depicted in the videos were not conducted by sub-contracted marketing companies to punish or intentionally humiliate anyone and that the videos are a number of years old.

But that doesn’t change the fact that Appco Australia will not tolerate these practices.

We’ve made it clear to all marketing companies sub-contracted by us that these activities are prohibited and will result in their contract with Appco Australia being terminated.

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FAQs

Did Appco Australia allow or force people to conduct the activities shown in the videos reported by the media?

 

FAQs

No. These activities were conducted without the knowledge, or permission of Appco Australia.

We won’t tolerate these practices and we’ve made that clear to all the marketing companies sub-contracted by us.

We have confirmed that every business we sub-contract has in place Work Health & Safety training and guidelines to help ensure there is no repeat of this kind of behaviour.

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FAQs

Why are unions being mentioned in media coverage of the class action?

FAQs

Unions have a legitimate interest in the rights of workers.

The unions have also made it clear that they are specifically targeting the charity fundraising sector.

In addition, they are always keen to gain more members and more membership fees.

So naturally, they would have a vested interest in the outcome of the class action.

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FAQs

There are claims your decision to postpone an awards event in March is an indication you have something to hide – is that true?

 

FAQs

It came to our attention the day before the event that the National Union of Workers (NUW) intended to stage a protest outside the venue where we were hosting the awards ceremony.

We felt the NUW’s plans would have undermined the celebratory nature and intent of this event.

As a result, we decided to postpone it to ensure attendees were not put at risk of intimidation or placed in a potentially uncomfortable or confronting situation.

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