Published: 11 Dec 2018
MEDIA RELEASE: Industrial Relations Minister Kelly O’Dwyer’s move to prevent ‘double-dipping’ by casual employees misses the point of a landmark federal court ruling finding that employers were unlawfully treating permanent workers as casuals, the CFMEU said today.
The Minister is letting employers off the hook for widespread exploitation of casual workers, said CFMEU National President Tony Maher.
“It is actually employers who have been double-dipping, by expecting the benefits of a permanent, committed workforce but pocketing workers’ paid leave entitlements as profit,” said Mr Maher.
“At the heart of this case is the community expectation that full-time, permanent workers should have access to paid annual leave and sick leave, so they have time with their families and time to recuperate when they’re sick.
“It’s why we have National Employment Standards.
“This case has exposed the fact that employers are breaching the National Employment Standards by hiring people on dodgy casual arrangements in jobs that are permanent and on-going, meaning they miss out on important family time, rest and recreation.
“Workers should have redress when they have been ripped off.”
The WorkPac v Skene Federal Court decision brought by the CFMEU found that casual labour hire coal miner Paul Skene was not really casual under the law, due to the regular, on-going nature of his work and forward roster. He was therefore entitled to paid leave.
The Skene judgment found that ‘double-dipping’ was not a relevant issue as Paul Skene’s hourly rate did not specify a casual loading. Furthermore, ‘double-dipping’ was not possible if employers employed people correctly, according to the nature of their work.
Extending casual workers’ rights to request permanent work is a sign that the Government is finally hearing the widespread community distress about casualisation of jobs, said Mr Maher. However, it is not enough to drive change.
“There are already ‘right to request’ provisions in place, but there is nothing to prevent employers simply saying ‘no’ when employees request permanency.
“We need stronger laws to define casual work, to provide rights to permanent conversion and to stop companies using casual labour hire workforces to drive down pay and conditions.”
Check out our explainer video on the 'permanent casual' rort.