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An interesting case relating to the treatment of long term regular casuals by the Federal Court of Australia [FCCA] reinforces the need for employers to:

1. Regularly review casual employees’ engagements and

2. Ensure that contracts and pay records reflect the casual type of employment.

The case in question dealt with a plant operator within the Construction Industry and, despite the employer’s arguments that the employee was a casual, it was found that the casual operator was entitled to payment for annual leave accrued but not taken during his 15 years of employment, as well as payment in lieu of notice following termination of his employment.

Importantly too, whilst the employer argued the employee was paid over and above the applicable award/agreement which was equal to any casual loading, there was no written contract governing this employment relationship, and the employee’s pay slips made no reference to the employee being a casual employee or that he was paid the casual loading component.

The FCCA’s decision was based on its conclusion that this employee’s engagement was long term, regular and systematic since the employee had worked full time hours and reasonable overtime and had never been told he was not required for work at any time prior to his dismissal.

Employers need to ensure they don’t pay an all in one amount to a Casual, rather, both the base rate of pay and the casual loading needs to be shown separately on the Pay Advice Slip so in the event of any payroll audit, the employer is not found to be in breach. It also goes without saying that casual employees also need to be aware of just what they are being paid for.

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