Government acts on casual workers

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The Federal Government will recommend changes to prevent casual workers from ‘double-dipping’ with back-pay claims in response to a recent ruling in Federal Court.

Minister for Jobs and Industrial Relations Kelly O’Dwyer will recommend that employers who have been found to wrongly categorise employees as casual, will be able to ask the court to offset casual loadings already paid, against any orders to backpay those workers.

Minster O’Dwyer said the change will provide clarity after the Federal Court ruled in favor of a casual labour hire employee who said he was entitled to annual leave entitlements due to his regular work hours.

“Small businesses have told us they are concerned a recent Federal Court case may give rise to claims to pay additional amounts for leave entitlements when they have already paid a casual loading in lieu of those leave entitlements,” O’Dwyer said in a statement on Tuesday.

The Federal Government also said they will legislate that “regular casual employees” will have the right to request to move to full-time or part-time employment. 

Clarification welcomed

Employer groups have been quick to celebrate the decision to clarify casual workers.

CCIQ General Manager of Advocacy, Kate Whittle said CCIQ welcomes changes that ensure business certainty and close a double-dipping loophole where workers on casual loadings could potentially apply for years of annual leave. 

“Businesses need certainty in order to hire and to indeed grow.

“The announcement by the minister is a pragmatic and sensible move that recognises that casual workers receive a loading rate (generally 25% higher pay) in lieu of entitlements such as annual and personal leave,” Ms Whittle said. 

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