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Labour hire firm loses casualisation case in Federal Court

WorkPac Recruitment
WorkPac Recruitment

A recruitment company failed to reverse a court ruling that outlaws using long-term casual workers at oil, gas and mining mining operations.

The Federal Court rejected WorkPac Group’s appeal against an earlier decision that casualisation of the workforce is against the law.

Spent years as a casual

The court found that WorkPac, which provides labour to BHP, Glencore and Anglo American, continued to employ Robert Rossato on six different casual work contracts between July 2014 and April 2018 when he should have become a full-time employee after working more than 48 weeks in his first 12 months.

“[After] working more than 48 weeks, he ceased to be a part-time employee, and became a full-time employee for the purposes of the enterprise bargaining agreement, and that he was thereafter entitled to the benefits that were payable to a full-time employee,” Justice Richard White said in the final judgment.

Underpaid

WorkPac argued it fairly compensated Rossato for his 22.3 weeks of untaken annual leave, three days of public holidays he did not work, and compassionate/personal/carer’s leave through adding a 20 per cent loading to his hourly earnings.

However, the court found the extra money would only cover public holidays, annual leave and sick leave but not any ordinary time or overtime Rossato worked.

“These entitlements were statutory entitlements, and the contracts of employment were not effective to the extent that they purported to take them away,” White said.

“I would also order that WorkPac is not entitled to set off against its liabilities under the above declarations any of the payments which it has paid to date under the six contracts of employment or under the 2012 EA. WorkPac’s remaining claims are dismissed.”

‘Stop with the nonsense’

The Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) believes the ruling means employers must employ workers based on the “objective nature” of the work instead of a “preferred label”.

“Employers must now stop with the nonsense that calling a worker a casual makes them so,” CFMEU national president Tony Maher said in a public statement. “When a job is full-time, regular and on-going, it is permanent and deserves the security and entitlements that come with permanent work.”

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The union previously defeated WorkPac in a separate casualisation lawsuit and secured back payment of annual leave for former casual coal miner Paul Skene.

“It clearly shows how casuals have been ripped off and treated like second class citizens,” Skene said according to the union. “I am very pleased that the law is now clear and that my case has made a difference.”

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