Employers are reminded to review their casual employment arrangements and convert the arrangements to part-time or fulltime employment where the true nature of those arrangements is not "casual" or is no longer casual.
Late last year, in the case of Skene v Workpac Pty Ltd  FCCA 3035, the Federal Circuit Court determined that an employee engaged pursuant to a casual contract of employment was a permanent employee for the purposes of the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) (FW Act).
The employer was made to pay AU$24,000 in accrued annual leave to the FIFO dump truck operator, after the court found the employer's 12-month rosters constituted a "firm advance commitment" to the worker's employment and that the "essence of casual employment" was missing. In particular, the regularity and predictability of his work at two central Queensland mines between April 2010 and April 2012 established an entitlement to annual leave under the FW Act.
Although the court observed that several factors supported the proposition that the worker was a casual employee among them the fact that he accepted that description himself, was paid hourly, completed weekly timesheets and could have his services terminated with an hour's notice those were ultimately outweighed by other conditions surrounding his time on WorkPac's books. In particular, the court found there was no evidence at all that he could choose which days he would work or not work.
When disputes such as this arise, a court will examine a number of factors (including roster patterns and communications with the worker) to ascertain the true nature of the arrangement, and not just the terms of the agreement, to determine whether or not the worker is engaged as a casual.
The employer has appealed the decision, the outcome of which we will be monitoring closely!