Casual work in the spotlight

The decision in the Federal Court regarding a casual worker’s entitlement to paid leave coupled with the recent Fair Work Commission decision allowing casual employees with 12 months of service to request full-time or part-time status illustrates the complexity of classifying employees correctly. Now, more than ever, employers must be rigorous in understanding their employment obligations.

Senior Employment Relations Adviser from Employsure, Amelia Gagliardi, said “These decisions will have implications for the preferred business model of many businesses – particularly those in hospitality, food, and labour hire companies, which rely on casual work due to “irregular working hours, projects, and seasonal work”.

“Casual work is always a hot topic – with employer groups, lawyers, and unions ready to indorse their cause. The reality is much more complex.”

“We need to be wary of assuming that all casual work is bad. Casual work is valued by employers and employees alike,” she said.

Data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) indicates around 19% of casual workers do not expect to be with their same employer in 12 months’ time.

According to Gagliardi, some employees prefer to be employed on a causal basis, “enjoying the flexibility of hours, having the right to accept or reject work, and in general the hourly pay of casual workers is bolstered by a ‘casual loading’ to compensate for the lack of such leave entitlements — usually amounting to an additional 25 per cent.”

“Casual work is about achieving a win- win for employers and employees to suit the productivity needs of a business and the flexibility needs of employees,” she said.

The 2018 Parliamentary statistical snapshot of casual workers identified the occupation groups with the highest prevalence of casual employees to be hospitality workers (79 per cent of all workers) and food preparation assistants (75 per cent).

In 2017, there were just under 2.5 million casual employees (those without access to leave entitlements) and around 7.4 million permanent employees (those with access to leave entitlements).

Source: Employsure

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