Landmark ruling on casual employees and what it means for you.

Landmark ruling on casual employees and what it means for you. - Miller Sockhill Lawyers
Landmark ruling on casual employees and what it means for you.

The Federal Court on Wednesday 20 May 2020 handed down their decision upholding a ruling that long-term casuals are entitled to paid leave.  The landmark case involving labour hire company WorkPac Pty Ltd, has redefined what the term “casual employee” means.  The ruling has sparked debate among businesses, unions, and employer advocacy groups.

What does this mean for you if you are a long-term casual employee?  At the moment businesses are not legally required to pay casual employees anymore than what is outlined in their employment contract or their enterprise bargaining agreement.  However, if you are a casual worker with any of the major labour hire companies, there are a number of class actions being launched as a result of this ruling so it would be wise to make contact with the firm handling the class action and request to join in, or at the very least see if you are eligible to join in.

The major takeaway from this landmark case is how the Full Court of the Federal Court redefined what it means to be “other than a casual employee”.  Under the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth), casual employees were exempt from receiving paid leave benefits such as paid annual leave, personal leave and compassionate leave in exchange for a higher rate of pay than employees employed on a full or part time basis would receive.

The Full Court held that “a casual employee is an employee who has no firm advance commitment from her or his employer to continuing and indefinite work”.  So, what is a “firm advance commitment” you might ask?  Well at this stage it appears to be an employee who is in continuing employment who works regular, predictable shifts.  If you are a long-term casual employee whose roster is published in advance for set periods and your shifts are regular in that the times will be repeating and uniform, then this ruling may apply to you.  Regular employment involves predictable periods of work where irregular employment does not.

For now though we wait and see the Government’s reaction to this landmark decision.  By introducing legislation to amend the Fair Work Act which would include the definition of a casual employee the Government would overrule the Federal Court’s ruling.

For more information on this decision and how it may affect you or your business, contact us here at Miller Sockhill Lawyers on 07 5444 4750 for more information.