O’Dwyer intervenes in casual work feud


O’Dwyer intervenes in casual work feud

IR Minister Kelly O'Dwyer plans to intervene in a case that will test a casual worker's right to claim leave and other entitlements.

Industrial Relations Minister Kelly O’Dwyer is intervening in a proceeding before the Federal Court of Australia. The case, Workpac v Rossato, relates to workers classed as casual and whether they should be able to claim leave and other entitlements. 

In an earlier case, Workpac v Skene, the court decided a worker had been incorrectly classified as a casual and that he was entitled to payment of accrued leave after the employment had come to an end.

Minister O’Dwyer is concerned there is ‘double-dipping’ potential due to confusion in distinguishing between permanent and casual employees over.

“The government is very concerned that the legal right to offset an obligation against payments already made for the same entitlements was not dealt with in Skene v WorkPac. We want to make sure the same thing does not happen again,” said Minister O’Dwyer.

Business reps back O'Dwyer

The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry welcomed the government’s decision to intervene, saying it was important for the protection of small businesses from “billions of dollars of additional, unbudgeted liabilities".

Australian Chamber CEO, James Pearson said: “We support the federal government’s intervention in the case to protect the interests of vulnerable small businesses and the millions of Australians who rely on casual employment. No Australian expects to get paid twice for the same thing.” 

National Retail Association (NRA) deputy CEO Lindsay Carroll also supported the intervention.

He said the Workpac v Skene outcome had the potential to devastate Mum-and-dad small business owners. 

“The end result would be that small businesses hire fewer casual staff, which would be another devastating blow to Australia’s already unacceptably high youth unemployment rate,” said Ms Carroll. 

Australian Hotels Association CEO Stephen Ferguson expressed a similar sentiment. 

“An employee should not be unjustly better off by receiving the benefits of both casual employment loadings and full-time or part-time employment entitlements,” said Mr Ferguson. 

Union slams “betrayal of working people”

The Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) slammed Minister O’Dwyer’s decision to back the recruitment company Workpac, saying it was an attempt to side-step the decision made in Workpac V Skene. The ACTU believes many workers are inaccurately classified as casual and that the concept of ‘permanent casual’ is exploitative.   

“The court has rightly exposed that big business has been cheating workers out of their entitlements. To use taxpayer money to undermine that decision shows how biased and out of touch Kelly O’Dwyer and the Morrison government are,” said ACTU President Michele O’Neil.

“Kelly O’Dwyer is helping them keep them myth of the ‘permanent casual’ alive and to strip workers of their rights.”
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