The High Court of Australia had recently reversed the decision to grant casual workers the right to be paid leave entitlements. Dismissing these payments would force workers to be ineligible to receive payments for annual, sick or other types of leave. The unanimous ruling had been made following appeals that concluded that workers who were employed under a regular, permanent basis were not to be considered ‘casuals’ under the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) (“the Fair Work Act”).

The decision on Workpac v Rossato

The High Court’s decision was made after allowing the appeal of Workpac in their case against casual mine worker Robert Rossato. The courts had investigated Mr Rossato’s status as a ‘long-term employee’ for the labour-hire company but it was found that he was only employed in the capacity of a designated ‘casual-worker’.

It is known that Mr Rossato was employed by Workpac for four years. During the time, he received a total of six employment contracts which described his role as a ‘casual employee’. Mr Rossato claimed that by working on a fixed weekly roster – sometimes over several consecutive months – he was more than just a ‘casual-worker’ and that there was a discrepancy between his title and the leave entitlements that he was receiving. The Court made findings in relation to the regulation of these entitlements, and considered whether Mr Rossato should be awarded restitution as well whether Mr Rossato should be considered as more than a casual employee. On Appeal, Mr Rossato’s role was found to be ‘other than a casual employee’ under the Fair Work Act.

Fair Work Act 2009

The Fair Work Act is one of the essential Commonwealth statutes that governs employment in setting out terms, conditions, rights and responsibilities in the relationship between employers and employees. It regulates the rights of both employers and employees to request flexible working arrangements, and also deals with things such as termination and the general protection of workers’ rights.

The High Court’s decision on Workpac v Rossato necessitated a change to the definition of a casual employee under s15A of the Fair Work Act to: “employment made by the employer to the person is made on the basis that the employer makes no firm advance commitment to continuing and indefinite work according to an agreed pattern of work for the person”.

How Etheringtons Solicitors can help

If you would like further information regarding employment issues or paid entitlements, please do not hesitate to contact one of our solicitors on 9963 9800 or via our contact form here.