NatRoad hails passing of casual employment reform


Reform seen as cure to risk of entitlements ‘double dipping’

NatRoad hails passing of casual employment reform
There is now a statutory definition of casual employment

 

The National Road Transport Association (NatRoad) is recording its relief at the passage through federal Parliament of the Fair Work Amendment (Supporting Australia’s Jobs and Economic Recovery) Bill 2021.

Commonly referred to as the IR Omnibus Bill, it passed Parliament on March 22, in what NatRoad describes as "a timely win for employers".

"After the bulk of the Bill was rejected by the Senate, the provisions left in the Bill are those relating to casual employment, the highest priority reform identified by NatRoad, the industry body notes.

"With the passing of the legislation, we now have a statutory definition of casual employment for the first time.

"The legislation also clarifies the situation regarding ‘double dipping’ by casual workers, after courts had ruled that they should receive standard employee entitlements as well as a casual loading where they were engaged on a regular and systematic basis."

The casuals provisions apply to new employees and existing casual employees engaged before the amendments take effect, on a date yet to set, with a six-month transitional period for conversion provisions. The Bill as passed will amend the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) to:

  • Define "casual employee" so that the employee’s status is determined at the beginning of the employment relationship
  • Require most employers to offer eligible casual employees conversion to permanent employment after 12 months, unless there is a reasonable business justification not to do so
  • Require employers to give new casual employees a Casual Employment Information Statement (yet to be released)
  • Allow a court to offset casual loading amounts paid to an employee against claimed entitlements during a period when that employee was not a casual employee but had been so classified
  • Allow the Fair Work Commission (FWC) to deal with small-claims style disputes about casual conversion.

 


Read about NatRoad’s concerns about issues surrounding casuals, here


"Significantly, provisions that would have criminalised wage theft, as well as those relating to award flexibility, greenfields agreements and Fair Work Commission procedure, were dropped from the Bill as passed," NatRoad observes.

"Regardless of whether you are a small, medium or large business, it is essential that a well-drafted employment contract be in place for every employee. But that is especially the case now for casual employees.

"A written employment contract will help to ensure that the rights and obligations of each party are clearly understood.

"This will help reduce the risk of any misinterpretations or misunderstandings which could potentially put the business at risk."

Following the commencement of the statute, NatRoad aims to circulate a more information outlining recommended steps for members to take in reviewing their casual employment arrangements.

 

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