Statement by Steve Knott, Chief Executive of Australian Resources and Energy Group AMMA
Australian Resources and Energy Group AMMA is extremely disappointed that the Labor Party is hell-bent on sending employers to the wall and damaging the national economy, through its latest stunt seeking to add greater chaos and uncertainty around casual employment.
Late yesterday, the ALP Federal Opposition tabled a motion in the Senate to disallow the Coalition’s Fair Work Amendment (Casual Loading Offset) Regulations 2018 (“the regulations”).
The regulations were introduced in 2018 in response to a highly controversial Federal Court ruling that 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.
This incredible Federal Court ruling, one that seemingly unwound the well-accepted historical interpretation of casual employment, remains an issue to be resolved by the Parliament.
The regulations, however, were introduced by the Morrison Government simply to ensure that where a casual employee may have a claim to unpaid permanent employee entitlements, that any casual loading received by that employee could be subtracted from any back-paid entitlements awarded by the courts.
In essence, it means employers required to treat casual employees as permanent won’t also have to pay casual loadings. Should this important clarification be disallowed, billions of dollars in windfall payments going back up to six years will be pursued by a myriad of opportunistic class action law firms.
It will be a lawyers’ picnic, resulting in many employers going to the wall. The net effect of such action will be significantly increased unemployment. Is this what the ALP and Greens really want?
Casual employees who believe they were actually permanent employees should not be able to “double dip” on both casual loadings and permanent entitlements. Employers should not be liable to pay both. This outcome would epically fail any objective test by any reasonable person.
The cost exposure for major Australian employers as a result of the 2018 Federal Court ruling was already damaging enough. Labor did not need to exacerbate this significant risk to the Australian economy by adding further chaos and uncertainty into the fold, but chose to do so anyway.
Will this be new Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese’s approach to engaging with business?
AMMA will join the broader Australian business community in strongly urging LNP and crossbench senators to vote against Labor’s disallowance motion on these regulations.
MEDIA CONTACT: Brad Thompson, 0409 781 580