Hundreds of thousands of jobs at risk after employment decision

13 Sep 2018 |

Australia’s largest voice for small business, the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said a Federal Court decision that overrules the existing understanding of casual employment risks serious damage to the Australian labour market.

“The Court’s decision to allow an employee hired and paid as a casual access to paid annual leave will not just place at risk the employment arrangements of Australia’s casual employees, it will cost the economy billions of dollars in compliance and liabilities,” Australian Chamber CEO, James Pearson, said

“The regulatory and legal implications of this decision are alarming.

“This decision is a king hit on the livelihoods of Australian employers and employees – in particular small businesses.

“Employers will have to work out urgently if they have to offer fewer casual jobs in case the work becomes too regular, creating unintended consequences and liabilities.

“Inflexible rules in most workplace awards mean casual employees, who might be deemed permanent because of the Court’s decision, may be locked into fixed hours. That means they lose out on being able to choose their shifts, change their hours or pick up extra hours when they become available.

Mr Pearson said the decision places at risk the extra pay and flexibility for the many employees who want to work as a casual. Students, parents and carers who rely on these arrangements will lose out.

“A casual employee is generally paid a higher rate to make up for the fact that they don’t get permanent employee entitlements such as paid leave.”

“This decision has the potential to create billions of dollars in liabilities for Australian businesses, most of which are small businesses,” Australian Chamber CEO, James Pearson, said today.

“How can it be fair that an employer can pay a higher casual rate in lieu of things like paid leave, follow the rules in their award or enterprise agreement – and then face penalties and have to pay again for leave? To a lot of people, it looks like double-dipping.”

“People running small businesses have told me this could send them to the wall and that means thousands of people could lose their jobs.”

“What’s more if businesses are bankrupted and employees laid off, the existing Government guarantee of termination entitlements will see taxpayers foot the bill.”

“This highlights yet again how our workplace relations laws are poorly designed for the job they need to do. Parliament urgently needs to change the Fair Work Act so it’s clear people employed and paid as casual employees, are casual employees. Employers and employees need to have certainty and confidence about their futures.”

Duncan Bremner

Director - Public Affairs and Advocacy

P  |  0448 822 666

E  |  [email protected]

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