Casual Employment in the Spotlight Again

Casual Employment is in the spotlight again. Lots of media about the threats to employers regarding potential back payments.

We have seen this before.

The latest media coverage is based on a recent decision on casual employment in the Federal Court. You can read more about this in an article from The Age yesterday at – https://www.theage.com.au/politics/federal/casual-workers-win-big-on-annual-leave-sick-leave-in-landmark-ruling-20200520-p54uuj.html?btis

But the decision is not “new” nor is it “surprising”.

For example, the “Skene” case was a similar situation in the mining industry against the same labour hire company (Watpac) nearly two years ago – https://www.theage.com.au/business/workplace/employers-protest-casual-employee-s-successful-claim-to-annual-leave-20180816-p4zxtk.html

It was the Skene case that triggered the class actions spoken about in yesterday’s article.   The real surprise in these articles is that a different result was expected?

What is casual Employment?

The main differences between permanent and casual employment are:

  • Permanent employees have an ongoing commitment to employment; and,
  • Permanent employees can expect to work a regular number of hours each week; and,
  • Casual employees have the ability to refuse to work a shift.

Casual employees do not have this commitment from their employers.

Because of the lack of commitment, a casual is paid a casual loading as they do not get benefits such as sick or annual leave.

See https://www.fairwork.gov.au/employee-entitlements/types-of-employees/casual-part-time-and-full-time/casual-employees#2096-2115

You will note that in both court cases, the court decided that the employees:

  • Had a firm commitment regarding employment,
  • Could expect regular and systemic hours of work; and
  • The employees were not free to refuse shifts.

Steps you can take to ensure your business is protected

We have recommended to our clients for many years that it is important to:

  1. Have the right mix of casual and permanents in your business. Employing casuals in “permanent type arrangements” can place your business at risk.
  2. Where casual’s are employed, they should not work regular and systemic shifts over long periods.
  3. Employment agreements should describe the nature of employment. For casuals, it is important to stress that there is no guarantee of ongoing employment or guaranteed hours.
  4. Casual loading should be separated from base rate amounts in employment agreements.
  5. Employment agreements should contain a description of the casual loading and its purpose.
  6. The casual loading should be demonstrated as separate amount from the base rate in your pay slips.
  7. Finally, if your award contains casual conversion clauses, ensure that you have followed these clauses.

Need Assistance?

For more information on Casual Employment, please contact People Smartz Pty Ltd on:

Would you like to discuss casual employment in your business with us? Book a complimentary session now

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