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Media Release: COSBOA slams misleading nature of AIG statements about IR agreement with ACTU

Updated: Aug 20




COSBOA notes with considerable disappointment statements made by the Australian Industry Group and some media reporting about the nature of the joint agreement reached with the ACTU in respect of casual employment changes contained in the Morrison Government’s IR Bill.


The statements made by AIG that the COSBOA/ACTU Agreements means that “Double-dipping claims by employees who have been engaged and paid as casuals would be given a green light to proceed” is just plain wrong as are some media reports that appear to have simply accepted the statement without verifying it”, said COSBOA CEO Peter Strong.


“I am at a complete loss to understand whether AIG’s statements are simply due to a failure to actually read the amendment or constitute deliberate over-reach to decry a position that AIG didn’t support because it wasn’t their own”, added Mr Strong.


“The simple fact is that COSBOA sought to honour the request of the Prime Minister last year for employer groups and unions to work together to come up with a compromise solution that was in the interest of all Australians – that is what we and the ACTU did and that is what we will continue to do”, added Mr Strong.


AIG and the other big employment groups, on the other hand, sat on their hands and chose to throw stones at anyone who disagreed with any aspect of their position.

“AIG has a right to comment on the agreement, but perhaps they should actually read what is being proposed next time”, concluded Mr Strong.


In the end, what AIG thinks is irrelevant. The Morrison Government passed laws that protect small businesses from the double-dipping risk. That is a great thing, and we applaud Minister Cash and the Morrison Government for passing these laws.


-ends-


Context

In the afternoon of 18 March, the Senate voted on the Government's IR Omnibus Bill. Earlier the same day, COSBOA and the ACTU had submitted a proposed amendment to the part of the Bill regarding the definition of casual employment. You can read exactly what we agreed to here. Almost immediately, AI Group criticised our agreement in a media release.


In the end, most of the Bill didn't make it through the Senate and only some changes to casual employment were passed, including the definition of a casual. The change that COSBOA is most pleased with is that if a court decides that someone classified as a casual is in fact not a casual (as has happened a few times), any casual loading that person has already been paid is deducted from the amount they can claim as compensation for unpaid entitlements. This means no double dipping.


However, the changes to the definition of a casual employee agreed to by COSBOA and the ACTU did not make it into the Bill. You can compare the COSBOA/ACTU definition with the definition that made it through the senate below:


Here is the definition we agreed to with the ACTU:


"15A Meaning of casual employee


(1) A person is a casual employee of an employer if the employer makes no firm advance commitment to continuing and indefinite work according to an agreed pattern of work for the person.


(2) For the purposes of subsection (1), in determining whether the employer makes no firm advance commitment to continuing and indefinite work according to an agreed pattern of work for the person, regard must be had to the following considerations:

(a) whether the employer can elect to offer work and whether the person can elect to accept or reject work;

(b) whether the person will work only as required;

(c) whether the employment is described as casual employment;

(d)whether the person will be entitled to a casual loading or a specific rate of pay payable only to casual employees under the terms of a fair work instrument.

(e) the pattern of hours that is worked,or scheduled by the employer to be worked, by the person."


Here is what was in the Bill:


"15A Meaning of casual employee


(1)A person is a casual employee of an employer if:

(a)an offer of employment made by the employer to the person is made on the basis that the employer makes no firm advance commitment to continuing and indefinite work according to an agreed pattern of work for the person; and

(b)the person accepts the offer on that basis; and

(c)the person is an employee as a result of that acceptance.


(2)For the purposes of subsection(1), in determining whether, at the time the offer is made, the employer makes no firm advance commitment to continuing and indefinite work according to an agreed pattern of work for the person, regard must be had only to the following considerations:

a)whether the employer can elect to offer work and whether the person can elect to accept or reject work;

(b)whether the person will work only as required;

c)whether the employment is described as casual employment;

(d)whether the person will be entitled to a casual loading or a specific rate of pay for casual employees under the terms of the offer or a fair work instrument."


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