Casual mine workers set to receive more rights

Casual employees will now have the right to request to move to full-time or part-time employment, the Australian Government has announced.

The Fair Work Commission made the decision after four years of proceedings, taking into consideration the evidence provided by unions and employer representatives.

All casual employees covered by the Fair Work Act 2009, including those in mining, will now receive an effect of that decision, the Minister for Jobs and Industrial Relations Kelly O’Dwyer said.

The right already applies to employees who have their terms and conditions set out by a relevant modern award system, or award-relying employees.

“The government’s approach will ensure a consistent, fair and balanced safety net for all employees covered by the national workplace system. Fairness and balance means having regard to the interests of employers and employees,” O’Dwyer said.

“If award reliant employees have the right to make a request and it is subject to reasonable safeguards for employers, it is only fair that the same right is extended to other casuals who currently do not have the same right.”

Employers can only refuse employee requests on reasonable grounds after consulting with the employee.

O’Dwyer said, “Many in the community are concerned about security of employment. But if regulation is too onerous, it is likely that employers will be less willing to create jobs. This issue requires a careful and balanced approach.”

Australian Resources & Energy Group (AMMA) said the change would not bring much impact to its members. However, it supports the legislative regime providing greater certainty on who is and who isn’t a casual employee.

For casuals who maintain a regular pattern of work, the Australian Government also clarified they cannot claim for entitlements twice. This includes arrangements for annual leave and redundancy.

A loading paid to a casual employee may potentially be set off against any subsequent claim for National Employment Standards to avoid “double dipping”.

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