Small business backs ‘perma-flexi’ worker plan

The Australian, September 26, 2018 (EXTRACT)

Small Business Ombudsman Kate Carnell has lent support to an ­employer push to create a new “perma-flexi” employee category, as unions warned mining ­companies that they could be ­complicit in breaking the law following a precedent-setting court ­judgment.

The NSW Business Chamber has applied to the Fair Work ­Commission to create the ­employee category in a bid to circumvent the court ruling they fear could cost business billions of dollars.

The Federal Court found Queensland truck driver Paul Skene, who was employed as a casual, was not a casual because of the regular and continuous nature of his work on a fixed roster, and was ­entitled to receive accrued annual leave pay.

Jobs and Industrial Relations Minister Kelly O’Dwyer said yesterday the government was concerned about the potential impact on small business of employees being able to “double-dip” on their entitlements.

Under the chamber proposal, employers would be able to convert a regularly rostered casual into a perma-flexi employee who would be paid leave entitlements, including annual and sick leave, but the 25 per cent loading paid to casuals would be cut to 10 per cent, and employers would have the ­capacity to increase or decrease employee hours from week to week.

Ms Carnell said the proposal “could be the way to go”. She said casual workers currently received none of the benefits of permanent employment. “This could create a scenario where they do have benefits,’’ she told the ABC. “Less loading (but) they still get more money than if they were ­permanent.’’

ACTU secretary Sally Mc­Manus said under the chamber proposal, workers would have their casual loading cut, would not have guaranteed hours and could not predict their income or hours from week to week. “Unfortunately, many employers would jump at the opportunity to casualise their workforce so they can chop and change their hours of work whenever they like,’’ she said.