AMWU rejects perma-flexi employment

The Print Division of the AMWU has slammed a proposal by business advocacy groups to introduce a new employee classification called ‘perma-flexi’, arguing that it makes no sense for the industry.

First floated in September, and with an application officially filed by the NSW Business Chamber at the end of February, perma-flexi employment would be defined as a"flexible ongoing employment" category.

Workers would only be guaranteed one to three hours of work per week, which the ACTU, and AMWU have criticised.

Lorraine Cassin, AMWU National Print Division Secretary, says, “Australia has one of the highest rates of insecure work in the OECD. Employers in our industry already have all the flexibility they need to run a 24-hour, 7 days a week operation under the current rules.

“The proposal to create a further category of insecure work makes no sense. It will only serve to reduce the bargaining power of workers in a climate where wages are at record lows.

“What our industry needs is investment in future skills and capacity not a race to the bottom on wages.”

The idea comes in response to the Workpac vs Skene decision, in which the Federal Court ruled that that casual haul truck operator Paul Skene was not really a casual due to the regular and continuous nature of his work on a fixed roster.

Essentially, Skene was receiving the 25 per cent casual loading, but the court ruled he was also entitled to the benefits of part-time and full-time workers, due to the nature of his roster.

The decision means that employees in similar regular and continuous employment may be entitled to paid annual and personal leave, even if their employer classifies them as casual.

The ruling was riled against by business advocacy groups around the country, which called it ‘double dipping’.

As an alternative for casual employment, under the NSW Business Council proposal, perma-flexi workers would get a 10 per cent loading, in exchange for flexible rostering subject to minimum hours.

The trade off from the 25 to 10 per cent casual loading is that they would have access to the same benefits as full-time, and part-time employees, included with the National Employment Standards, including sick leave, and holiday pay.

The PIAA was contacted for the story, with industrial relations advocate Sam Puri saying, “From my perspective, the current industrial relations model is complex. From the perspective of reforming IR, the proposed perma-flexi model creates more complexity.

“We would look towards waiting for the High court to make a determination on the definition of casual employment. It may well be that after the election that one of the parties looks to define casual employment within the Fair Work Act. So we would look towards working within the system that would be created within the High Court.

“We have two current categories, employees and independent contractors; an employee works for a business, and a contractor works for themselves.

“The gig economy is popular with consumers.

"We would be looking to a hybrid model, instead of a perma-flexi arrangement, where a freelancer is not running their own business, nor are they an employee, so they would have the freedom to set their own work. We would consider a few basic standards for those individuals too.

“By creating another category on top of full-time, part-time, and casual, it creates more complexity in an already complex IR system.”


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One thought on “AMWU rejects perma-flexi employment

  1. Another step towards the iniquitous UK style ‘zero hours’ contracts where employees are not guaranteed any minimum work but heavily restricted. Totally un-Australian and disgusting. What next? A return to slavery?

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