Interested parties have until the 19th March to submit a tender application to the Australian Building and Construction Commissioner for consideration as part of planned research into sham contracting within the Australian building and construction industry.

Research is expected to begin in mid April.

ABC Commissioner Leigh Johns identifies this research as a key milestone following the release of the ABCC's Sham Contracting Inquiry Report in November last year.

One of the key recommendations of that report, Mr Johns explains, was that the ABCC conduct research to build an accurate picture of the scale of sham contracting in the building and construction industry.

The first step in this process was taken in December 2011 with the establishment of a Sham Contracting Research Advisory Committee consisting of eight industry stakeholders and academics.

This committee has since decided that in order to discover more about the nature of sham contracting, inquiries need to be made more generally into the nature of contracting for personal labour.

Mr Johns says that the ABCC will use the results of this new research to identify how many contracting relationships in the building and construction industry are genuine, and how many are deliberate or unintentional misclassifications.

”I hope the research identifies the motivation and intentions of both parties when defining an employment relationship. I am concerned about the possibility of building workers being coerced into becoming an independent contractor, when they should be categorised as an employee," he comments.

Once the research has clarified the extent of sham contracting, Mr Johns says the ABCC will work with industry stakeholders to formulate effective solutions to the problem.

"Its continuing existence adversely affects decent employers who face an invidious choice of either joining in the indecency of sham contracting or going out of business, and it hurts workers through a reduced capacity to enjoy basic conditions of employment, work security and access to formal training," he says.