The Federal Court has ruled that Australia’s more than one million casual workers may be entitled to annual leave and sick leave benefits.
A recent ruling in a Federal Court case between Robert Rossato and Workpac Pty Ltd may see casual workers awarded access to entitlements full-time employees receive. And media reports claim that the judgment could affect more than 1 million workers across the country and cost businesses $8 billion.
A quick summary of the Rossato v Workpac case goes something like this:
Labour hire firm WorkPac employed Robert Rossato as a mine worker in Queensland. Mr Rossato was a casual employee and employed on rolling contracts over a three-and-a-half-year period. As a casual employee, WorkPac paid Mr Rossato a 25% loading on his wage. The company believed the loading compensated him for not being paid sick leave, annual leave and other full-time employee benefits.
The Federal Court found that as Mr Rossato’s employment was regular, certain, continuing, constant and predictable. And, as he was given rostered shifts well in advance, he was eligible to entitlements that full-time employees receive.
WorkPac, on the other hand, claimed that Mr Rossato was being paid a 25% loading specifically because he was not receiving all the benefits of full-time workers. In their view, paying the loading and the benefits would amount to “double-dipping”. But the Federal Court disagreed.
“On a simplistic view, it (the decision) provides long term regular casuals with an entitlement to annual and personal leave”, said Graham Lilleyman, Director of ESSA, ACWA’s Industrial Relations Helpline consultants. “Whilst we are still reviewing the Decision, in most cases in our view, even if the entitlement exists, employers will be able to set-off the entitlements against the casual loading that has been paid to employees”.
The case is shaping up as a political battle with the Federal Government considering changing the law and, the Government may also consider backing an appeal to the decision.
Graham is currently preparing further information for ACWA members.
Can an Employer Require Staff to Download the COVIDSafe App?
ACWA Member Ben Haycroft from Workplace Central provided some recent and useful information about the Federal Governments COVIDSafe App. And, we are sure hoping he won’t mind us plagiarising a bit of it here.
As employees return to work, employers are justifiably trying to do everything in their power to make their workplaces as safe as possible. And, with downloads of the COVIDSafe app reaching over 5 million, it appears some employers may have been wondering if they can require employees to download the COVIDSafe app.
The short answer is ‘NO’. The COVIDSafe app has been clearly promoted as voluntary, and employers must respect this.
Ben also reminds us “When considering a COVID-19 Safety Plan providing access to handwashing facilities, sanitiser, and social distancing where possible are the starting points to implement”.
(Note the CovidSafe App is the Australian Government app used for contact tracing those who have been in contact with people with COVID-19).