“Today’s decision by the High Court to grant special leave to WorkPac to appeal the controversial decision of the Federal Court in the WorkPac v Rossato case is very welcome. The Federal Court’s decision has alarmed businesses and is no doubt operating as barrier to employers taking on casual staff. With more than half a million casual jobs lost since March, any barrier to casuals being re-employed is not in the interests of employees or employers,” Innes Willox, Chief Executive of the national employer association Ai Group, said today.
“There are at least 8 class actions underway pursuing claims against employers given the interpretation of the law adopted by the Federal Court.
“In evidence given in support of WorkPac’s special leave application, Ai Group’s chief economist calculated that the potential cost impact of the Federal Court’s decision to employers, if not overturned, would be over $14 billion. The Federal Government’s estimates of the potential cost impact are between $18 billion and $39 billion.
“In the decision that is the subject of the appeal, the Federal Court decided that Mr Rossato was not a ‘casual employee’ despite the fact that the employment contract that he signed stated that he was a casual employee and despite the fact that he was paid a casual loaded rate under the enterprise agreement that applied to his employment. The Federal Court also decided that WorkPac is not entitled to offset the higher casual loaded rate against the annual leave, personal/carer’s leave and compassionate leave entitlements that Mr Rossato claimed. The Federal Court’s decision creates the potential for ‘double-dipping’ where an employee can effectively be paid twice for leave entitlements already included in the casual loading.
“The appeal will be heard by the High Court next year,” Mr Willox said.