December 2018

All I want for Christmas is some certainty

It’s been a rough year for anyone who employs casual staff members.  For a quick recap, check out our bulletin here.

However, it looks like businesses with casual employees are likely to have a *slightly* happier holiday season, following today’s announcement of a new Fair Work Regulation to address casual entitlements.

Announced today by the Federal Industrial Relations Minister, Hon Kelly O'Dwyer MP, the new regulation is expected to provide that where an employer has paid a clearly identifiable casual loading to an employee engaged as a casual, it may potentially be offset against any subsequent claim for permanent staff entitlements such as annual leave.

While this certainly wouldn’t close the door to casual employees claiming that they are permanent employees, it will potentially lessen the sting for employers.  In a practical sense, the new regulation will prevent ‘double dipping’ and prevent casual employees from claiming both casual loadings and annual leave payments.

In a media release, Ms O’Dwyer stated that the introduction of a new regulation was designed to complement her earlier intervention into WorkPac v Rossato (see our review here), with ‘both seeking to provide certainty around existing general law rights and to prevent employers having to pay employees their benefits twice.

However, it is not all happy news and Christmas cheer for employers.  Ms O’Dwyer also announced that the Coalition Government will legislate to modify the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) to provide casual employees with the right to request to move to full-time or part-time employment.

This right has already been introduced into numerous modern awards.  However, if the government’s legislation is successful, the right could be extended to all casual employees, regardless of whether they are covered by an award or the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth).

The Bill is yet to be released so stay tuned for more updates on casual employees.

Authors: Amber Sharp and Jade Bond