Double dipping to go under new govt proposal

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New government legislation is attempting to relieve employers of the double dipping burden, and if passed it will also relieve business of the estimated $39bn they stand to pay out if the current High Court ruling sticks.

Casuals: nervous time for print business owners who may have to pay back entitlements
Casuals: clarity coming

Under details of the new laws, casual workers will not be able to claim both the casual loading and the regular entitlements that emplolyers say are covered in the casual loading, but were ruled as not so by the High Court, a judgement that is currently under appeal.

The new laws will also mandate that casuals that have been with the same employer for 12 months, and have been in the same regular shift pattern for half that time, must be offered a permanent role. However that will not have a major impact on print, as under the current Graphic Arts Award casuals that have been in a role for six months must be made permaments.

The proposed changes come as part of a raft of new industrial relations legislation proposed by the government and championed by attorney general Christian Porter.

Casual are a fact of life in the printing industry, brought into help with the peaks in production which can be planned for, such as the Christmas rush, or unplanned when a major new order comes in or a job needs rushing through.

Andrew Macaulay, CEO of PVCA said, "Double dipping caused by uncertainty of casual definition has diminished hiring. PVCA is pleased to see thast legislation introduces a statutory definition of casual employment. SMEs need casual labour, and they need certainty when employing. PVCA urges printers to encourage their local members of parliament to support this legislation."

Charles Watson, GM IR, Policy, and Givernance at Real Media Collective said, “The government’s move to legislatively define casual employment with some degree of specificity is welcomed for the clarity and certainty those amendments would provide both employers and employees. Given the outcomes from the Workpac decision earlier this year, the proposed inclusion of a statutory offset term would mean that any specifically identified casual loading payments would count towards any entitlements an employee may try to claim, if their casual status is later found to be a misclassification by an employer.”

The spotlight swung to casuals thanks to the High Court’s decision in the double dipping class action, which ruled that casuals were entitled to holiday pay and other benefits, even though they typically receive a 25 per cent wage loading in lieu of their casual status. That decision was slammed by employers' groups – a major source of support for the Morrison government – hence the proposed new laws. The ruling is also being appealed in the High Court.

Casuals are a major part of many industries, there are in fact 2.6 million casuals in Australia, half of them working regular shifts for at least 12 months.

The new laws – seeking to find some middle ground between employers and the unions will likely be opposed by both sides. The government is attempting to both limit the definition of a causal, effectively banning permanent casuals, while restricting their benefits.

Christian Porter, attorney general said: “Our definition of casual employment is likely broader than some business groups had wanted, unions are likely to say we should have made the definition broader still, suggesting to me that we have struck the right balance on this issue and delivered a fair and equitable outcome that will benefit both workers and employers."

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