Proposed changes could allow outsourcing companies to keep using long-term casual employees at oil, gas and mining operations.
The so-called federal Industrial Relations Reforms – Supporting Australia’s Jobs and Economic Recovery package includes new definitions to prevent permanent casuals from seeking compensation for unpaid annual leave, public holidays and compassionate/personal/carer’s entitlements.
Originally, the package was also going to criminalise wage theft, simplify award rates, and include extended long-term pay agreements. However, these changes were scrapped in the House of Representatives, dealing a heavy “blow to casual mineworkers”.
Since the Senate has approved the package, the rules will overrule a Federal Court precedent that casual labour hire workers should become full-time staff after working more than 48 weeks in the first year of employment.
“Mineworkers found to have been unlawfully employed as casuals will be prevented from claiming their rightful entitlements,” Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union mining and energy general secretary Grahame Kelly said in a public statement.
“This government, with the support of One Nation, has introduced an unfair definition of casual based on words in the contract not the reality of the work arrangements.”
The approved package also means, if the Federal Court reheard the 2020 case of former WorkPac drive-in drive-out production employee Robert Rossato, the casual would not be awarded the same 22.3 weeks of untaken annual leave, three days of public holidays he did not work, and compassionate/personal/carer’s leave.
QMEB understands this is because the judge would have to define Rossato as a casual, and rule he was adequately compensated through his 20 per cent loading.
“The Federal Court has made a series of sensible judgments exposing the ‘permanent casual’ rort in the mining industry, which gave hope casual miners exploited over many years,” Kelly said.
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