Parliament Plays Games with Casual Employees

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Friday 15 February 2019: The Australian Retailers Association (ARA) today condemns the use of dirty tricks by the opposition parties in the Senate to prevent regulations that protect casual employees from taking effect.

The Fair Work Amendment (Casual Loading Offset) Regulations 2018 (Regulations) were made by the Government in December to address uncertainties created by a case in the Federal Court during 2018 regarding casual employee entitlements. However, the Australian Labor Party (ALP) is using tactics in the Senate to play games with casual employment, threatening their job security and costing retailers millions in false entitlement claims.

While casual employees are already compensated with a casual loading in their ordinary wages for the absence of annual leave and sick pay entitlements, the Federal Court’s Decision in the Workpac v Skene Case last August potentially gave casual employees the opportunity to pursue back-pay claims for annual leave and sick pay entitlements. The Regulations made by the Government in December 2018 were intended to address the issue by clarifying these entitlements.

Russell Zimmerman, Executive Director of the ARA, said that if the ALP was successful in coercing the independents on the Senate’s crossbench to overturn the Regulations on 2 April, retailers could be liable for millions of dollars in back-pay to casuals who were never entitled to annual leave or sick pay.

“These Regulations are crucial to providing certainty to retailers and their casual employees, and without them, the confusion around entitlements will only get worse and small and family-run retailers will be crippled by the financial cost. The ALP will destroy casual employment by making it completely insecure, with businesses being forced to cut shifts or shut their doors entirely,” Mr Zimmerman said.

“Retailers really care about their casual employees and want to provide them with the best opportunities that they can. However, constantly shifting the goalposts and adding millions of dollars to the industry’s wage bill means many retailers may have to make the heartbreaking decision to say goodbye to casual employees who rely on their jobs.”

As the retail industry employs over 10% of the Australian working population and many small to medium enterprises employ this populous, this manoeuvre brought forward by the ALP will have a direct impact on the retail industry. To protect the future of retail employees and the industry, the ARA will continue to advocate on behalf of its members on key policy and advocacy issues.

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For interview opportunities with Russell Zimmerman, ARA Executive Director call the ARA Media Line on 0439 612 556, or email media@retail.org.au 

About the Australian Retailers Association:

Founded in 1903, the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) is Australia’s largest retail association, representing the country’s $310 billion sector, which employs more than 1.2 million people. As Australia’s leading retail peak industry body, the ARA is a strong pro-active advocate for Australian retail and works to ensure retail success by informing, protecting, advocating, educating and saving money for its 7,700 independent and national retail members throughout Australia. For more information, visit www.retail.org.au or call 1300 368 041.

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