New Laws for Casuals: have you met your obligations?

No doubt you may have heard a lot in the media recently about the new laws for casuals. And, it may seem a bit overwhelming at times as there is so much information and sometimes it can seem a bit sensationalised. In this three minute read, Industryus has done the hard work and summarised the important bits for you.


Where did all this casual talk suddenly come from?

The court case which has caused the recent attention on casual employment was Workpac v Rossato. While the matter was heard in the Federal Court about 12 months ago, the 250 odd page decision took until late May 2020 to be finalised. That is one big read!

As you can imagine with anything of this size, it is complex. We are sure you don’t have any interest (or time for that matter) to read through it. So, to make it simple here is a very quick summary of how the new laws for casuals came about.

The recent Workpac v Rossato decision re-affirmed the 2018 Workpac v Skene decision which found that some casual workers might be able to ‘double-dip’ (receive a casual loading plus be entitled to paid leave like a permanent employee receives). What is significant however about Workpac v Rossato is that the decision contradicts new government regulations introduced to stamp out the right to double-dip in casual employment. Essentially the Workpac v Rossato case means that the new regulations are useless and in certain situations where casuals are employed regularly and systemically they could be entitled to paid leave – even when they are receiving a loaded rate of pay.

Does the Workpac v Rossato decision mean that all casuals will automatically be entitled to back payments of leave or offers of permanent work?

No. You may have heard in the media that future legislation could be introduced to correct this decision made by the courts. This is true, but we don’t know exactly when this may happen. Therefore, as it currently stands, the decision made in Workpac v Rossato is currently the law and employers need to be mindful about how casuals are engaged, or they could risk back payment claims being made by casual employees.

We don’t think that employers need to panic, however. Rather, employers should carefully review their casual workforce to get an understanding of how casuals are engaged and work on strategies that will reduce the organisation’s exposure to underpayment claims from casuals or breaches of Fair Work rules. If you are concerned about or unsure whether casual obligations are being properly met, we recommend engaging a professional to work through it all with you. Rectifying issues now will place your organisation in the best position to defend any future claims.

What should employers do?

  • Ensure the casual conversion obligations in the relevant modern award are adhered to.
  • Review your casual workforce and consider which employees might be regular and systemic and could be offered permanent employment. Follow casual conversion rules in this regard.
  • Implement quality employment contracts for all casual employees so that your business is in a defensible position.
  • Ensure your casual employees are treated as such. E.g. casuals will have no firm expectation of future shifts/work, and generally have more control over when they work.

How to get help regarding the new laws for casuals

The information above is general guidance. Industryus HR strongly recommends employers seek advice from an employment relations professional to implement the steps required for better compliance with the new laws for casuals.

Don’t hesitate to organise a Free Introductory Call to find out how we can help.

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