Greater certainty for casuals and small business on the Sunshine Coast

The Morrison Government has delivered more certainty to casual workers and small businesses on the Sunshine Coast as our region recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic by passing landmark reforms in the Senate today. Under the legislation the Sunshine Coast’s casual workers will have greater opportunity to convert to permanent work, while the 20,000 small and family businesses in the local electorate of Fisher will be saved from a share in a potentially devastating $39 billion liability thanks to the Government’s removal of a ‘double dipping’ loophole.

Federal Member for Fisher Andrew Wallace, who supported the legislation’s passing, said that the Sunshine Coast would benefit more than most from these important reforms.

“The Sunshine Coast is the small business capital of Australia and local businesses have had a tough time over the past 12 months. The looming threat of millions of dollars in unfair double-dipping could have driven many out of business and cost us jobs on the Coast. Equally, our large and vibrant tourism industry in the region means that many local employees are casual workers, and thanks to this new law many of them will now have a clear path to permanent work.” Mr Wallace said.

The legislation passed today provides eligible casual employees a new, statutory pathway to permanent employment on a full-time or part-time basis through a legislated, casual conversion entitlement. This means eligible casual employees can become ongoing full-time or part-time employees if they wish to do so. The Bill also closed the loophole in existing laws which allowed some employees to ‘double-dip’ on their entitlements by being paid a casual loading as compensation for not having leave entitlements and then being paid those leave entitlements in addition. 

“Unfortunately the Labor party chose to oppose these vital reforms today and tried to deprive casual workers of a path to permanency. It is clear once again that Labor do not care about workers, and that there is only one side of politics standing up for Sunshine Coast employees and their jobs. That is the Liberal National Coalition.” he said.

Acting Minister for Industrial Relations, Senator the Hon Michaelia Cash, said that this is a significant win for casual workers who perform a regular pattern of work and deserve the benefits that can flow from permanency, if that is what they wish,”.

“In addition, the Bill passed today protects business from double-dipping back-pay claims for entitlements they have already paid, which if left unaddressed had the potential to cost jobs and bankrupt businesses. These measures will protect jobs into the future, a critical move as Australia moves strongly out of the economic impacts caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

“Disappointingly, at a time when the economy is recovering and businesses are hiring more Australians, Labor and the ACTU were willing to let small and family businesses be hit with an up to $39 billion double-dipping wage bill, and deny casual employees a pathway to permanency. When it comes to employers and casual employees, clearly Labor is not on your side.”

The Minister said that, whilst the Senate did not support a number of other proposed reforms in the Bill, the changes relating to casual workers were the most critical elements of the legislation, as these changes will provide certainty to both Australian workers and businesses and stronger rights for employees.

“Labor’s hysterical scare campaign, backed by its union mates which pour millions into Labor’s coffers, has put its own interests ahead of the interests of workers, the businesses that

 employ them and the national interest, at the most challenging time our nation has faced in decades.

“Labor should hang its head in shame.”

For more information on the Fair Work Amendment (Supporting Australia’s Jobs and Economic Recovery) Bill 2021 visit www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Bills_Legislation/Bills_Search_Results/Result?bId=r6653

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