Casual workers paid leave decision

The National Retail Association (NRA) has stated that yesterday’s Federal Court ruling regarding back-pay of leave entitlements to certain casual workers could cost billions of dollars across the economy and jeopardise jobs during a time of economic turmoil.

Yesterday the court upheld a ruling that casuals who had worked regular shifts were entitled to paid leave and rejected the opportunity for leave entitlements to be set-off against any casual loading “paid in error”.

NRA CEO Dominique Lamb said the decision could not come at a worse time as businesses across the economy battle the economic sledgehammer caused by COVID-19.
“This ruling will open up a can of worms that will have ramifications across all industries, including retail,” Ms Lamb said.

“Retail has one of the highest proportion of casual workers of any sector. If businesses are forced to back-pay leave entitlements to casuals who have worked regular shifts it could spell doom for many businesses and the workers they employ.

“Australia already has a high youth unemployment and the NRA is concerned that this ruling will disincentivise employers from hiring young people on a casual basis.
“Retailers have already been hit hard by the economic sledgehammer caused by COVID-19, the ABS revealed just yesterday that turnover was down in the sector by 17.9 per cent in April.

“The priority now should be to restore clarity to casual employment arrangements, save as many businesses as possible and thereby saving as many jobs as possible. This ruling by the Federal Court will only make that task harder, not easier.”

Ms Lamb also argued that the decision could see taxpayers forced to fork out more money and urged Industrial Relations Minister Christian Porter to enact legislative solution.

“Double-dipping claims for leave entitlements from casual workers would almost certainly lead to further insolvencies. This will see the taxpayer – who is already subsidising the wages of many workers through JobKeeper – forced to pay twice as claims will be paid under the Fair Entitlements Guarantee,”

“Retailers across the country urge Industrial Relations Minister Christian Porter to amend the Fair Work Act to help businesses save jobs during the worst economic catastrophe since the Great Depression.”