In a move welcomed by resources and energy employers and the broader business community, the Senate defeated an ALP motion to disallow the Fair Work Amendment (Casual Loading Offset) Regulations 2018 (“the regulations”), which were introduced by the Coalition Government in late 2018 to provide some relief to employers facing potential back-pay claims arising from the Federal Court decision in WorkPac v Skene.
The highly controversial ruling found some casual employees could claim for back-paid entitlements historically reserved for permanent employees, such as annual leave and redundancy pay, even when they had signed a casual employment contract and accepted a 25% casual loading in their pay.
The regulations meant employers found to have unwittingly misclassified employees and liable for back-paid entitlements could at least offset any casual loading paid to those employees.
“The Regulations didn’t solve the broader confusion around the legal definition of a casual employee, but they at least meant employees couldn’t “double dip” on both casual loading and permanent entitlements,” AMMA Chief Executive Steve Knott, said.
“Labor’s attempt to disallow these Regulations was reckless and entirely unnecessary. Had it been successful, those businesses already under threat of opportunistic class action law firms would have seen their exposure increase significantly.
“AMMA joins the broader business community in commending the Senate for decisively putting an end to the Opposition’s irresponsible stunt.
“We further urge the Government to resolve the uncertainty and risk exposure to Australian businesses by legislating that if someone is engaged and paid as a casual, they are a casual.
“This clear definition would align the law with the longstanding and widely accepted understanding of casual employment prior to the Skene decision.
“AMMA would hope the ALP under new Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese would re-think its attack on Australian businesses and stop revelling in the uncertainty this casual employment mess has caused.
“It is in nobody’s interests to see employers become bankrupt over this issue, least of all the millions of employees who rely on confident, strong Australian businesses for their livelihoods.”