Casual worker awarded annual leave entitlement
A recent decision by the Federal Court of Australia to award annual leave benefits to a casual employee has highlighted the need for employers to understand the differences between casual and permanent employees, and the rights and obligations that come with each.
The Sydney Morning Herald reported that a casual employee of Workpac, who had worked as a truck driver on a regular shift for two and a half years, was granted the right to an annual leave payout upon termination of his employment.
In this particular case, the court ruled that the consistent nature of the employee’s regular shifts and working hours contradicted the fundamental basis of casual employment. He was therefore entitled to annual leave benefits in line with permanent employees.
Compared to permanent employment conditions, casual employment by nature has a large degree of infrequency and informality and is characterised by a few key differences, some of which are outlined below.
- Does not have a regular pattern in regard to shift frequency or working days (e.g. casual employees should not be working the same shift week to week or fortnight to fortnight)
- Does not adhere to long term advanced scheduling (e.g. does not incorporate rosters that are pre-planned months in advance)
- Has a degree of variance in regard to shift length (e.g. casual employees will often have irregular start or finish times for shifts)
This is the first case of its kind in Australia and with it comes a potential precedent. It serves as a timely reminder that employers must correctly assess the employment conditions of each of their staff and ensure the appropriate practices and entitlements are managed and upheld.
We recommend you seek advice if you are unclear about your responsibilities as an employer to ensure your current practices comply with the Fair Work Act in light of this new ruling. You can contact us on 08 9321 2111 if you would like to discuss this matter further in relation to your business, or if you would like a referral to a local legal specialist.
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