Double dipping High Court decision a win for employers

Published August 04, 2021 -
Rossato Decision

The High Court ruling to overturn a decision that could have seen some casual employees claim permanent entitlements will help save business owners billions in back payments.

In 2020, the Federal Court ruled Robert Rossato, a long-term employee for labour hire firm WorkPac, was not a casual, but in fact more than a ‘regular and systematic’ worker that was eligible for paid entitlements as well as 25% casual loading. The High Court has today overturned this decision, which would have created an economic time bomb for employers had it been upheld.

“The High Court has restored sense and clarity to casual employment for the thousands of Australian businesses who this decision directly affects,” said Nicholas Hackenberg, employment relations specialist at Employsure, workplace relations advisor to 30,000 SMEs across Australia and New Zealand.

“This decision will eliminate employer hesitancy over double dipping claims when taking on casual workers. Unions will say this decision is a financial kick in the guts to casuals, but in fact, this will give employers the confidence to take on more workers and create more jobs.”

Earlier in the year, the federal government passed its Industrial Relations bill which introduced new measures relating to casual employment including a legal definition, the option for casual conversion, as well as a new legal avenue to help employers avoid instances of double dipping.

As it stands, a casual employee will remain a casual until they are either converted to a permanent role or accept an alternative offer of permanent employment. Having a legal definition will help minimise confusion among business owners when taking on new employees and avoid any future lawsuits similar to the Rossato case.

Employers looking to convert casual workers to permanent roles should monitor their pattern of hours more carefully to determine whether or not that worker is eligible to be offered conversion to permanency, or to request it.

“It is important employers comply with and understand their obligations under any applicable industrial instrument regarding casual conversion. What may have started out as a casual relationship may overtime evolve into something more permanent, and employers should review casual employees regularly as a result,” continued Mr Hackenberg.

“Giving employers more of an opportunity to convert casuals to a permanent role will ultimately act as a fix to double dipping backpay claims, and will help provide additional certainty to both employers and employees on the status of casual employment.”



Further enquiries:

Matthew Bridges

[email protected]

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