Casual workers might be eligible to claim annual leave entitlements, including substantial payouts when they leave their job, after a landmark court ruling involving a Queensland miner.
The full Federal Court found that the miner was entitled to annual leave, despite being employed by a labour-hire firm as a casual worker.
The decision will send shivers down the spines of businesses who employ workers under such arrangements, but will delight many Australians who work in the ever-increasing casualised workforce.
“This is big news for casual workers, especially those who work day in day out, as if they are full time staff, but don’t get to take paid holidays,” said industrial expert Miles Heffernan from Industrial Relations Claims.
“If you’re classified as a ‘casual’, but you basically work under the same conditions as a full time permanent worker, then you could be entitled to take paid annual leave, and you could even be entitled to a pig payout when you leave the job.”
Paul Skene worked as a truck driver at a Rio Tinto mine in central Queensland for two and a half years, but was employed by labour-hire company WorkPac as a casual.
The Fair Work Act says that casual workers are not entitled to paid annual leave, sick leave, carer’s and compassionate leave, but in return, they are paid a loading on their hourly rate.
Mr Skene’s job required him to fly in and fly out of the mine and work seven days on and then take seven days off.
He was given a roster 12 months in advance, and did not have flexibility in the hours or days that he worked or didn’t work.
Last week, the Federal Court found that Mr Skene was entitled to annual leave, because he worked a regular and continuous pattern of work.
The end of the ‘permanent casual’
Mr Heffernan, who represents workers in industrial disputes said the ruling is good news for casual employees.
“More and more employers have been using casual workers so they don’t have to pay entitlements, like annual leave, well now they’ve been put on notice,” he said.
“If you are a ‘casual’ who works like a permanent employee, you need to come and speak to us, because you could be entitled to paid annual leave, or even money for leave that you might have accrued.
“Hopefully this court decision will see the end of the ‘permanent casual’ – which was always a bit of a rort, and a way for employers to get around paying workers their proper entitlements.”
Mr Skene’s case has now been referred back to the Federal Circuit Court which will determine how much compensation he will receive, and what penalties will be imposed on WorkPac for contravening the Fair Work Act.
If you are not being paid your correct wages and entitlements, or if you are considering legal action to recover stolen wages, we can help.
Please call our team at Industrial Relations Claims today on
1300 045 466