Last week, the full federal court upheld a decision that casual truck driver Peter Skene was entitled to leave provisions under the National Employment Standards, despite his casual employment by employer WorkPac.
This ruling comes after a five-member full bench of the Fair Work Commission decided to incorporate a ‘model casual conversion’ clause into 85 modern awards, including in the retail, restaurant, banking, aged-care, agriculture, airline, mining, maritime and transport industries.
Speaking to The Bookkeeper, Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT) chief executive Rochelle Park said the ruling meant it would be prudent for bookkeepers to revisit applicable modern awards.
“It is important that bookkeepers check the applicable modern award of the individual to ascertain whether a 'model casual conversion' clause has been written in and what the term is for casual employment to be considered for conversion to permanency,” said Ms Park.
“Bookkeepers should be advising their clients about their obligations to advise their employees about any applicable 'model conversion' clauses that may apply to them and ask the question about whether they would like to be converted to a permanent employee, unless there is a reasonable circumstance that prevents the employer from making this change.
“Bookkeepers are well advised to seek additional HR advice support for the provision of payroll services because of the complex nature of these industrial laws.”
Further, AB Phillips director Martin Nally added that the rulings meant the definition of casual employment needed to be clearly identified.
“This recent federal court decision is a warning about the common use of ‘permanent casuals’ and the dangers of engaging a casual under a pattern of regular work,” said Mr Nally.
“In the interim, the engagement of casual workers needs to be carefully examined and applied to avoid their systematic and regular engagement and now, because of the federal court decision, access to leave entitlements. The specifics of each award which is applicable should be examined as no blanket rule applies yet.”
Jotham Lian is the news editor of Accountants Daily, the leading source of breaking news, analysis and insight for Australian accounting professionals.
Before joining the team in 2017, Jotham wrote for a range of national mastheads including the Sydney Morning Herald, and Channel NewsAsia.