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Government intervention in WorkPac v Rossato casual employment case

“The WorkPac v Rossato Case, which was the subject of a hearing in the Federal Court, is important, but it does not reduce the need for urgent legislative intervention by Parliament to prevent double-dipping claims by employees who have been paid a casual loading,” Australian Industry Group Chief Executive, Innes Willox, said.“It is obviously unfair for employees who have been paid a casual loading to be allowed to claim years of back-pay for annual leave entitlements from businesses that have, in good faith, employed them as casuals and paid them a casual loading. Everyone knows that casual loadings are paid in lieu of annual leave and various other entitlements of permanent employment.

“Widespread uncertainty has been created by the Federal Court’s August 2018 decision in the WorkPac v Skene case. The Court has decided that the term ‘casual employee’ in the Fair Work Act has no precise meaning and whether any employee is a casual for the purposes of the Act depends upon the circumstances.

“The uncertainty caused by the decision will put a hand-brake on employment and investment unless Parliament acts quickly.

“Small businesses will be particularly hard-hit, as can be seen from the following statistics extracted from Ai Group analyses of ABS and HILDA statistics:

  • At least 1.6 million of the 2.6 million casuals in Australia work on a regular, ongoing basis;
  • The potential cost impacts of the Court’s decision on employers for annual leave alone are between $5.7 billion and $8 billion;
  • Over 50 per cent of casuals work for businesses with less than 20 employees and over 80 per cent work for businesses with less than 100 employees.

“Ai Group welcomes the Australian Government’s intervention in the WorkPac v Rossato case, but this does not reduce the importance of an urgent legislative amendment being passed with the support of Government, Opposition and Crossbench Parliamentarians.

“The role of Parliament is to protect the community’s interests. Parliament needs to act now, to address the uncertainty and to preserve fairness through a simple legislative amendment to prevent ‘double-dipping’ claims by employees engaged and paid as casuals,” Mr Willox said.

Source: Ai Group

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