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Benny Brown Case

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Using common law, advise Benny on the true nature of his contractual relationship with GTPL.


Benny Brown saw an advertisement made by GTPL that was looking for mobile gardeners to start up a new business venture. Benny accepted and started working with GTPL. However, there were some changes made in GTPL in January 2012, Janet, the company's manager wanted to transform the mobile gardeners into Independent Contractors for their own interests. Benny was not given sufficient time to consider on the new contract and eventually signed the "Independent Contracting Agreement" in order to save his job. Benny soon met with an accident that resulted in long term disability. Despite being able to recover after a few months' rest, he was dismissed by Janet in a hand delivered termination letter.

Test Analysis

We will be using the multi-factor test which the Courts have used as the definitive test for identifying employment relationships in order to understand Benny's working relationship with GTPL. It brings together a number of aspects from other tests and considers a variety of factors, none being determinative, yet each holding a certain amount of strength in affecting the Court's decision. Furthermore, in the event of audit / dispute, any written agreement stating the nature of employment or contracting relationship will be taken into consideration but is not conclusive. The true nature of the relationship will be examined despite any written agreement made.

Multi-factor Analysis - Independent Contractor

Benny was to provide his own vehicle and his own equipment despite working under GTPL. Benny was not restricted to own work for GTPL, and was not requested to wear a uniform while working for GTPL. These factors show that he is more of an independent contractor than an employee of GTPL.

Multi-factor Analysis - Employee

There were several factors that has shown Benny was treated more like an employee. These includes having allowance for his vehicle maintenance costs; being paid an hourly flat rate and having to undertake jobs on GTPL's disposal. His work performance was also assessed via random quality control checks done by the manager of GTPL and these shows that there was considerable control over Benny. GTPL answering for complains shows that Benny was working for the Goodwill of GTPL. Taxation was deducted from Benny's payments each week, and he was entitled to three weeks' leave each year (discharged on GTPL's discretion). While Benny was not required to wear a uniform while at work, he was asked to emblazon his van with GTPL's logo and signage. These factors show that Benny was treated more as an employee.

Supporting cases - Application

In the case of Zujis v Wirth Brothers Pty Ltd (1955) , it was held that the acrobat was an employee of the circus, as he was under the control of the proprietor in most of his works. The right to exercise that control shows that the proprietor was the employer and the acrobat the employee. In this case, Benny was obviously controlled by GTPL on matters pertaining to his job allocation. Although he was allowed to have other private sources of income, but when needed by GTPL, he was still obliged to give them priority.

In the case of Hollis v Vabu (2001) , the court focused on the control aspect of the multi-factor test, and it was held that the bicycle courier was an employee of the company. The courier was not allowed to determine how he would perform his work and he also wore a uniform that the public identifies as being part of Crisis Courier. In Benny's situation, he was also unable to control the jobs given to him by GTPL. While there was no need for him to wear a uniform while performing his duties, his van had GTPL's logo and signage on it, acting as a platform for advertising. Benny was therefore considered an employee of GTPL.

After the reorganising of the business, Benny was requested by Janet to sign an "Independent Contracting Agreement". The terms were not clearly conveyed to Benny, and he was not given sufficient time to make his decision on accepting the



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