Casual Employment: Reforms Welcomed

Truck driver

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The Government’s Industrial Relations Omnibus Bill, introduced today, is supported by the road transport industry, especially as it relates to reform of casual employment.

NatRoad CEO Warren Clark said: “Problems associated with engaging employees on what were intended to be casual arrangements, but which have been subsequently categorised as permanent employment by courts have caused confusion in the road transport industry. Clearly, if an employee is engaged under a modern award as a casual and is paid the casual loading, then they must be engaged and paid as a casual in accordance with the award and they shouldn’t be able to ‘double dip.’  The Bill will bring about sensible and worthwhile change.”

“Certainty about employment arrangements is vital. Businesses must have the confidence to employ and employees must receive their correct entitlements.  Where the law is uncertain and unfair that doesn’t happen.”

“The Bill will introduce a statutory definition of a casual employee. The Bill will prevent unintended outcomes in situations where employers have to pay an employee twice for the same entitlement. In the event that an ongoing employee is misclassified as a casual, the Bill enables casual loading amounts to be offset against claims for leave and other entitlements in certain circumstances, to address the potential for ‘double dipping’ when recognising the employee’s correct classification. “

“Together with the statutory definition, the ability to offset the loading already paid will give employers confidence to create jobs by using casual employment as a flexible employment option that will benefit all parties.   While the industry is still grappling with the challenges created by the pandemic on the back of a driver shortage, the last thing we need is a legal barrier to flexible employment options.”

“The Bill also introduces a statutory obligation for employers to offer regular casual employees’ conversion to full or part-time employment, unless there are reasonable business grounds not to do so. This will help employees engaged as casual employees who work regularly to become ongoing employees, if that is their preference, noting that in the road transport industry many casuals will work regular patterns of hours because the system operates on the basis of driver rostering.”

“The new entitlement will require an employer to offer an eligible casual employee conversion to full or part time employment after 12 months of employment, with a residual right of conversion in certain circumstances for employees who have not received or accepted an employer offer to convert.   We call on the Government to allocate resources to educating employers about these new procedures, as many have turned their backs on employing casuals because of the existing confusion in the law,” Mr Clark concluded.