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Government steps in on casual pay decision

Federal industrial relations minister Kelly O’Dwyer has announced she will intervene in a potentially landmark court case about the entitlements of casual workers.

Labour hire firm WorkPac filed an application in the Federal Court seeking confirmation that a former employee was casual, and therefore not entitled to be paid leave entitlements after believing an earlier decision to be incorrect.

O’Dwyer said the federal government had decided to intervene to give certainty to millions of small businesses, and that it seemed incongruous that casuals could get 25 per cent loading as well as holiday pay and other such entitlements.

“It’s generally one or the other but not both, and that certainly needs to be made very clear,” O’Dwyer told reporters in Canberra.

“We know this particular case has caused great alarm for small businesses right around the country.”

The National Retailers Association welcomed the announcement, with NRA deputy chief executive Lindsay Carroll having stated small businesses need certainty over their obligations.

“As one of Australia’s largest employers of young people, the retail sector needs clarity, certainty and confidence when it comes to ‘double dipping’ and the employment of casual workers,” Carroll said.

“Christmas is just around the corner and retailers should be looking to hire casual workers to cope with the increased business, but the lack of certainty created by this case severely jeopardises this.

“The end result would be that small businesses hire fewer casual staff, which would be another devastating blow to Australia’s already unacceptably high young unemployment rate.”

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