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The HR Cartel

Labor is changing casual employment rules… again.

Aussie employers (once more) are about to experience another set of (new) rules for casual employees, and of course, Tony Burke will redefine the classification of casual work, as part of the Labor government's ongoing industrial relations reform agenda.

July 24, 2023

Aussie employers (once more) are about to experience another set of (new) rules for casual employees, and of course, Tony Burke will redefine the classification of casual work, as part of the Labor government’s ongoing industrial relations reform agenda.

Tony Burke wants to establish, for the third time in as many years, a new pathway for casual conversion and introduce legislation for a new definition of casual work. This means over 850,000 casual workers would gain access to the expanded conversion pathway. Tony Burke appears to be fancying himself as somewhat of a saviour to Aussie casual workers, claiming casual employees would not be forced into permanent employment, but for those who desire job security and are essentially working as permanent staff, this new initiative would provide a glimpse of hope.

Tony Burke makes the ridiculous claim that Employers are “double-dipping”

In perhaps the most ridiculous statement we’ve heard from Burke to date, he’s accusing employers of “double dipping”, by saying these employers benefit from the advantages of a reliable workforce offered by permanent employees while denying job security and the entitlements such as annual leave and sick leave that come with permanent contracts.

“Double-Dipping” actually occurs when employees take a 25% loading on top of their wage from an employer, in place of permanent employment entitlements, and then lay a claim on their employer, saying they should have been permanent – holding their hand out for back payments related to the “non-payment” of permanent entitlements.

The latest casual conversion rules, inserted into the Fair Work Act in March 2021, already require employers to offer casual employees the option to convert to permanent employment, but these employees rarely accept the offer, because they’ll lose the 25% loading – meaning they overwhelmingly don’t want to take a permanent role.

Regarding the definition of casual work

before March 2021, courts used a multi-factorial approach to determine whether they were a casual employee or not. However, two landmark Federal Court cases, WorkPac v Skene and WorkPac v Rossato, challenged this framework. The courts ruled that certain casual employees should be considered permanent employees, allowing them to claim entitlements like annual leave. This sparked concerns among employers about potential “double dipping.”

To provide clarity, the Fair Work Act was amended in March 2021, defining a person as a casual employee if they accepted a job offer without a firm commitment to ongoing work with an agreed pattern of work. This definition shifted the focus to the character of written contracts rather than the day-to-day reality of the job.

Labor wants to revert the nation back to the pre-2021 definition of casual work

In reality, even with legislated obligations placed on employers, people simply have not taken up the offer of permanent employment to any degree that indicates Aussie workers want or need more access to this entitlement. This is nothing more than the Union movement’s push to consistently wage war on flexible workforces, casual employment, and freedom of choice, rather than and all for one, one for all socialist approach that suits nobody more than the Australian Union movement.

As Minister Burke prepares to outline the government’s priorities in industrial relations reform, employers are left to wonder about the potential impact of these proposed changes on their workforce and business operations. Stay tuned to learn more when the government releases context and information on their next amendments.

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