Australia's Federal Court Rules Some Casual Workers Are Entitled To Annual And Sick Leave
The Australian Federal Court has ruled that some casual workers can be entitled to paid annual, sick, carer's and compassionate leave.
The news will be music to some people's ears who have been campaigning for better legislation around employment contracts.
The court found that casual workers who have regular and predictable shifts with a firm advance commitment to work cannot be considered 'casual' even if that's what it states on their contract.
As a result, these employees deserve paid leave like their part-time and full-time counterparts. This is estimated to affect 1.6 million workers. It also opens the door for employees to apply for back pay, which could be in the billions of dollars.
CFMEU National President Tony Maher said the Federal Court's ruling is a massive win for people who deserve time off.
He said: "This is a fantastic decision that puts an end to the 'permanent casual' rort that has become a scourge in the coal mining industry and across the workforce.
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"It's a decision that passes the pub test on what it means to be a casual and is consistent with community expectations that casual work is irregular and intermittent."
"Employers must now stop with the nonsense that calling a worker a casual makes them so. When a job is full-time, regular and ongoing, it is permanent and deserves the security and entitlements that come with permanent work."
While it's described as a massive win for some, industry experts warn that there could be future cases of 'double-dipping', where workers claim both casual rates and annual leave.
The Australian Industry Group chief executive Innes Willox said employers should map out a clear way to give every employee a good contract.
He said: "[The] decision... highlights the need for urgent legislative reform to provide certainty to businesses and casual employees, and to prevent double-dipping claims by casuals who have been paid additional remuneration in lieu of the entitlements of permanent employees.
"An employee engaged as a casual and paid a casual loading... should not be allowed to turn around years later and claim the entitlements of a permanent employee, like annual leave."
It will no doubt cause many businesses to think twice about the way they structure their employees' working patterns. While some might give their staff the entitled leave, they could easily just switch them off their 'regular and predictable' shifts to avoid giving them that extra time off.
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