The Printing Industries Association of Australia says a move by Labor to change a casual employee pay regulation is causing unnecessary uncertainty for small business but the federal opposition says the current system is not protecting businesses anyway.
The Fairwork Amendment Casual Loading Offset Regulations 2018 was introduced by Workplace Relations Minister Kelly O’Dwyer into parliament on December 18 after a federal court ruling about casual pay loadings sparked concerns amongst small business owners earlier in the year.
The Workpac v Skene case ruled that truck driver Paul Skene employed casually through a labour hire firm to work for mining giant Rio Tinto was a full-time employee entitled to annual leave and sick pay.
Labor senator Doug Cameron raised the issue in the Senate last week sparking concerns among business owners that they may be confronted with the significant liability of having to pay casual staff both a casual loading, normally around 20 per cent, and annual leave and sick leave entitlements.
But Labor’s shadow minister of Employment and Workplace Relations Brendan O’Connor says Labor is seeking an objective and clear explanation of what constitutes a casual employee so that employers and employees know and understand the difference and what their entitlements are.
He also says the new regulations do not actually change anything that was already in law anyway.
“This is bad regulation that the government’s own advice argues doesn’t even change the existing law. How can you get a remedy if you don’t change anything?” O’Connor told ProPrint.
“The government has shown no interest in tackling precarious employment and therefore are unlikely to join Labor and legislate an objective definition of ‘casual’.”
PIAA chief executive officer Andrew Macaulay says the news that the regulation may be disallowed opens the door for small business to be hit with casual employees making a claim for both a casual loading and annual leave and sick pay entitlements.
“The entire situation creates an enormous, and unnecessary uncertainty and stress for small businesses in an area that is already tricky to navigate without specialist help,” Macaulay says.
“It beggars belief that Doug Cameron can move to disallow a regulation aimed at protecting family businesses from a clearly unreasonable “legal obligation”. A fair definition of a “fair pay for fair work” would not include double dipping.”
Legislation to make it easier for long term casuals to convert to full time employees after a certain period of time is also up for debate in Canberra this week.
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