Yesterday’s Full Federal Court decision in the case of Workpac v Rossato creates significant uncertainty for businesses with casual staff at a time when many businesses are fighting for survival.
Around 80% of businesses employing casuals are small businesses. As a highly casualised industry, the retail sector is particularly exposed to any variations in casual worker entitlements. Without prompt clarification, this decision could not only subject the retail sector to crippling unbudgeted costs, but also affect the reopening plans for retailers who rely on the casual workforce.
This is unhelpful for retailers and Australian casual workers who rely on this work.
Retailers are looking to play their part in bringing Australia back to normal safely. The ability to do this will be more difficult if they are unable to rely on the flexibility of casuals as they return to normal operations on a gradual basis.
Casuals receive greater flexibility and higher rates of compensation pertaining to their status as casual employees – if they are also paid the entitlements of permanent employees it will create a cost burden that is untenable. It is important that employers have clear guidance on the future entitlements of this section of their workforce.