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Industry welcomes Minister's intervention in WorkPac Casual Employment case

"The Australian Industry Group (Ai Group) welcomes the Australian Government's decision to intervene in an important Federal Court test case about casual employment, which is listed for an initial case management hearing before the Federal Court today. The WorkPac v Rossato case is separate to the Federal Court's highly problematic WorkPac v Skene decision that has caused widespread concern across Australia," Australian Industry Group Chief Executive, Innes Willox said today.

"Casual employment plays a vital role in Australia's labour market. A loss in flexibility in this area would destroy competitiveness and jobs.

"In the WorkPac v Skene case, the Federal Court held that the term 'casual employee' in the Fair Work Act has no precise meaning and whether any employee is a casual for the purposes of the Act depends upon the circumstances. This is unworkable. The very widespread and longstanding practice across virtually all industries is that an employee engaged as a casual and paid as a casual is a casual. It is very common for casuals to work on a regular and systematic basis for extended periods.

"One in every five Australian workers is a casual employee, with more than 80 per cent of casual employees working for small and medium businesses with fewer than 100 staff members, according to the Characteristics and Use of Casual Employment in Australiareport, published earlier this year by the Commonwealth Parliamentary Library. The analysis by the Commonwealth Parliamentary Library reports that:

  • 51.4% of casuals work for small businesses with less than 20 employees, or 1.3 million casuals in 2018;
  • 30.7% of casuals work for businesses with 20-99 employees, or 798,000 casuals in 2018; and
  • 17.9% of casuals work for businesses with 100 or more employees, or 465,400 casuals in 2018.

"Today, Ai Group released a new Economics Fact Sheet that shows where Australia's casuals are employed. As explained in the Fact Sheet, ABS data indicate that 39% of the total workforce work in small businesses (those employing 1-19 people). The industries with the highest proportion of workers in small businesses are also the industries in which high numbers and/or proportions of casual workers are employed (table 1). This means that casual workers are more likely to be employed in small businesses than are other types of workers.

"In addition to the Government's intervention in this important Court case, Parliament needs to urgently pass legislation protecting businesses from 'double-dipping' claims by casuals. It would unfair for an employee who has received a casual loading to be able to claim annual leave and redundancy entitlements," said Mr Willox.

Media enquiries: Tony Melville – 0419 190 347