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Labor Party seeks to redefine the rights of casual employees

Regulations made by the Australian Government to clarify uncertainties surrounding the rights that casual employees are able to claim have come under attack by the Australian Labor Party.

The regulations were put in place following a landmark case in which a casual employee was able to claim back-pay benefits, such as annual leave, due to having worked regular shifts for an extended period – despite being paid casual loading.

The Labor Party, which is seeking to offer an objective definition of casual entitlements in fair work laws, could strip away the protections afforded by the Government’s intervention, according to Australian Retailers Association executive director Russell Zimmerman.

“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,” Zimmerman said.

“Constantly shifting the goalposts and adding millions of dollars to the industry’s wage bill means many retailers will have to make the heartbreaking decision to say goodbye to casual employees who rely on their jobs.”

An estimated 10 per cent of the Australian working population is employed in the retail industry, according to the ARA, which said many retailers rely on casual employees to fill the gaps in their business.

Labor employment spokesperson Brendan O’Connor said if the Government wanted to clarify the issue, it should support the opposition’s plan to creating a new definition of ‘casual’ in fair work laws, according to The Australian.

“The best thing to delineate between ‘permanent work’ and ‘casual work’ is to have a clearer definition,” O’Connor said.

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