Australia’s casual workers may be entitled to annual leave

A landmark court ruling has found that "regular casual" workers, including truck drivers, are entitled to annual leave benefits.
By: | August 21, 2018
An Australian truck driver, employed as a “casual” worker, has been awarded annual leave benefits by an Australian court.
Unlike permanent employees, casual workers are not entitled to annual leave, as per Australia’s Fair Work Act.
However, in the case of Peter Skene, the Federal Court of Australia has ruled otherwise, because he worked regular hours in a pattern.
The worker, Peter Skene, was hired under a “labour hire” agreement to service a mine — that is, he was hired by an outsourcing agency, WorkPac, as a casual worker. Skene put in  more than two years as a mine drive with Workpac.
With the ruling, Skene is now entitled to be paid for annual leave accrued up to the termination of his employment.
Employers across Australia have protested the decision, and are now calling for a revision of the Fair Work Act, which does not currently provide a definition of casual work.
“The interpretation of the Fair Work Act that the Federal Court has adopted is inconsistent with industry practice and will potentially lead to a great deal of uncertainty for businesses. This in turn will not be good for jobs, including for young people who rely heavily on casual employment,” said Innes Willox, of the Australian Industry Group.
However, Tony Maher of the Construction, Forestry, Mining, Maritime and Energy Union pointed out that the ruling is a win against the dishonest practice of employing “permanent casual” workers.
“The labour hire industry will cry foul over this decision – the answer for them is to employ people under proper workplace arrangements that reflect the real nature of their work,” he said.
The Australian government is reportedly mulling over the lanmark ruling, including the “broader implications” to labour legislation within the country.