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High Court upholds freedom to contract casually

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The Facts

Robert Rossato was employed by WorkPac, a labour-hire company pursuant to a series of six contracts, or “assignments” between 28 July 2014 and 9 April 2018, when he retired. During that time, WorkPac provided his services to Glencore at one or other of the Collinsville and Newlands mines. Each contract was entitled “Notice of Offer of Casual Employment – Flat Rate” except for the third contract, which was entitled “Notice of Offer of Casual Employment”. At all relevant times, WorkPac treated Mr Rossato as a casual employee.

Most of the time, Rossato worked according to either a “7/7 roster” (seven days on, seven days off) or a “5/5/4 roster” (five days on, five days off, four days on, five days off, five days on, four days off). The only exceptions to these arrangements were when he undertook additional training or inductions, and during mine shutdowns. Rossato was never asked by WorkPac or Glencore whether he intended to attend work on a day he was rostered; nor did Rossato ever enquire whether he would be required to attend work on a day he was rostered.

On 2 October 2018, in reliance on the decision in WorkPac Pty Ltd v Skene [2018] FCAFC 131, Rossato wrote to WorkPac claiming that he had not worked for it as a casual employee, and claiming that he was entitled to be paid for untaken annual leave, public holidays, and periods of personal leave and compassionate leave taken by him during his employment. These entitlements were said to be due under the Fair Work Act 2009 and the WorkPac Pty Ltd Mining (Coal) Industry Enterprise Agreement 2012, which governed Rossato’s employment.
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