Working from home is on the rise as mumpreneurs wish to maintain the balance of working life and family life. Most popularly, mumpreneurs are turning to hiring a virtual assistant for an extra pair of hands. McDonald Murholme Senior Associate Bianca Mazzarella explains the difference between a virtual worker to that of an employee.
Virtual assistants: Mumpreneurs’ Secret Weapon
There is an increasing number of professional mothers who have recently given birth and are needing to earn more money due to the increased cost of living. They often either go back to work sooner than planned or decide to start their own business at home so they can spend more time with their children. These mothers are called ‘mumpreneurs’ and are also known as women entrepreneurs.
If all goes to plan and the business flourishes, a mumpreneur may find herself looking for some extra help but can’t afford a permanent employee. This is where a virtual assistant can come to the rescue.
What is a virtual assistant?
Virtual assistants are rising in popularity for start-ups and are also known as a remote personal or administrative assistant. Instead of working on site, a virtual assistant works remotely, usually from the comfort of their own home.
Due to technological improvements and advances over recent years such as document sharing and online organisational databases, the dream of working remotely has become a reality for many.
Virtual assistants are usually highly skilled, independent professionals who can provide a business with administrative, technical and creative business support in an affordable and flexible way.
What do virtual assistants do?
Virtual assistants are efficient and cost effective. They usually perform tasks which may be considered tedious but integral to business operations such as:
- Data entry;
- Email management;
- Customer service responsibilities such as answering phone calls;
- Content writing;
- Web development;
- Act as a marketing assistant.
What is the difference between a virtual assistant and an employee?
Despite doing similar work to that of an employee, a virtual assistant is often considered an independent contractor. The worker will provide most of their own equipment required to complete the work such as a computer and mobile phone. The virtual assistant is technically running their own business as they set the fees, hours, policies and procedures and have multiple clients of their own.
In comparison, an employee will have scheduled working hours each week to correlate with their full time or part time employment status. The employee will usually work at the organisation’s premises with supplied equipment and receive all employee entitlements and benefits such as annual leave and sick leave.
What workplace rights does a virtual assistant have?
Independent contractors have different obligations and rights to employees because of their independent nature. If a virtual assistant is considered a genuine independent contractor, they then have limited recourse and will not be protected by claims such as unfair dismissal.
In certain cases, some general protections provided under the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) extend to independent contractors and their principals. Independent contractors have limited workplace rights, however, are protected from adverse action, coercion, and abuse of freedom of association.
If a business owner is considering hiring a virtual assistant and is not sure what their legal obligations are and what contractual arrangements are required, seeking legal advice is recommended.
Reference: “Virtual assistants: Mumpreneurs’ Secret Weapon”, Dynamic Business Women, August 31st 2017.