EMPLOYER groups have welcomed the High Court of Australia granting special leave for Workpac to appeal the Rossato decision, a test case for casual work entitlements.
Casual workers get no annual leave, personal leave, notice of termination or redundancy pay but instead are entitled to a 25% pay loading.
Following the Rossato case in the Federal Court, some casuals will be entitled to both, something employers have branded “double dipping”.
“The Rossato double dipping decision will be one of the most important employment law decisions that the High Court has had to consider,” said Steve Knott, chief executive of Australian Resources and Energy Group AMMA, said.
“The precedent set by the Federal Court in both the Rossato and Skene decisions overturned decades of common understanding about casual employment and suggested casuals could have two bites of the cherry – higher hourly pay rates and entitlements reserved for permanent employees.”
“Should the Federal Court’s decision stand, thousands of employers across all sectors of the economy would face the threat of backpay claims.”
Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry CEO James Pearson said the decision of the Federal Court in Workpac v Rossato upended more than two decades of widespread industry practice and called into question the viability of casual work.
“Thousands of businesses who believed they have fully complied with their lawful obligations under industrial awards, have instead been exposed to legal double jeopardy,” he said.
“No Australian expects to get paid twice for the same thing, and no business should be required to pay twice for the same entitlement.”
Mr Pearson called on Parliament to restore clarity to casual employment and decades of established law and practice, reversing the unexpected Federal Court decision.
Earlier this year, ACTU secretary Sally McManus said the Workpac ruling was a “massive step forward” in the fight for more secure work.
“This [Federal Court case] is a huge win for the workers involved and their union the CFMMEU, but it is also a win for all workers who are suffering because of systemic casualisation,” she said.
“We need the stop the practice of some employers labelling jobs “casual” when they are in fact permanent. This has stripped workers of rights and security.”