A recent Federal Court ruling finding a casual truck driver entitled to annual leave highlights the importance of ensuring employment of casual staff is legally compliant and adequately protects their interests.
The Paul Skene case prompted the Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) national president Tony Maher to urge businesses to review their casual employment arrangements.
More than 2 million Australians are employed casually and the perception is that there are productivity and budgetary benefits to this practice, but that may not necessarily be the case.
Here are some of the key checks any business with casual staff should apply.
- hourly pay rate loading, according to the relevant award
- superannuation contributions if they earn more than $450 a month
- parental leave
- long service leave
- eligibility to be converted to permanent work after a specific period of regular work
- the right to a safe workplace and to apply for compensation in the event of an injury at work.
The last item is important because a recent research project by the University of New South Wales reveals hidden health and safety costs in casual employment. It shows casual workers are at greater risk of injuring themselves and others, which can lead to increased cost of insurance cover.
To avoid this from the outset, ensure new employees receive
- proper training and induction
- clear communication of protocols
- monitoring of activities.
An additional consideration is that 40% of Australia’s casual workers are aged 15–24 years, making them more vulnerable to bullying than older employees. Employers should be aware that claims for psychological damage are significantly higher than for other injuries and actively monitor employee activities and reinforce behaviour protocols.
Mandatory insurance cover
All employees should be insured for workers’ compensation, including
- part-time, casual and seasonal workers
- workers on commission
- contractors and sub-contractors (in some circumstances).
Gallagher not only offers workers’ compensation but its Workplace Health & Safety offering encompasses everything from safety mentoring and training through to health and wellness programs, hazard and risk profiling, and incident management and investigation.