Relief over high court move on double dipping

26 Nov 2020 |

Australian businesses have been thrown a lifeline today in the fight against double-dipping claims, following the High Court’s decision to grant special leave to Workpac and the Australian Government to appeal the decision of the Federal Court in the Workpac v Rossato case.

The Federal Court’s decision exposed many businesses to the possibility of having to pay casuals twice for leave, placing both the jobs of more than a million casual employees into doubt and exposing employers to more than $14 billion in backpay claims.

“The decision of the Federal Court in Workpac v Rossato upended more than two decades of widespread industry practice and called into question the viability of casual work if it is allowed to stand. Consequently, today’s decision by the High Court to hear an appeal is a relief, but not yet a remedy”, ACCI CEO James Pearson said today.

“Thousands of businesses who believed they have fully complied with their lawful obligations under industrial awards, have instead been exposed to legal double jeopardy which could send many over the edge, as they face claims for double-dipping, paying for leave once through a 25 per cent or so casual loading, and then again through possible back-pay claims after a worker leaves their job – even if the casual employee had already pocketed and spent the casual loading.

“No Australian expects to get paid twice for the same thing, and no business should be required to pay twice for the same entitlement.

“Casual employment will be vital to restoring jobs, and helping businesses facing headwinds to get back on their feet, as Australia rebuilds from the economic damage caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“So, while ACCI welcomes the High Court’s decision to hear an appeal, employers and employees need to see common sense and confidence restored much sooner than the High Court appeal process will likely take.

“We call on Parliament to restore clarity to casual employment and decades of established law and practice, reversing the unexpected Federal Court decision.

“Businesses around the country currently face enormous hurdles just to keep their doors open, and with more than 950,000 Australians out of work, we need urgent legislative reform to give certainty to business and casual employees, to preserve fairness by ending double dipping claims and to encourage employers to retain casual workers and take on new employees.”

Marie Hogg

Senior Adviser - Media

P  |  0431 299 518

E  |  [email protected]

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