By Chris Hook
The Catholic Church has thrown its weight behind a trade union bid to secure parental leave for casual workers who have been employed
for longer than a year.
An application to include parental leave for long-term casuals in new federal awards has been made to the Australian Industrial Relations Commission (AIRC) by the Australian Council of
Trade Unions as part of their ‘Work and Family Balance’ campaign.
The application is for unpaid maternity or paternity leave for casual workers who have been employed by the same employer for more than 12
Some 29 per cent of Australian workers are employed casually and more than 60 per cent have been employed for longer than 12 months.
In a written submission to the AIRC, the Australian
Catholic Commission for Employment Relations (ACCER) said the provision of parental leave for casual employees was “equitable” and would “assist the employee in balancing work and family commitments.”
although it supports AIRC’s submission, ACCER has questioned the classification of workers employed by the same employer for more than a year as “long term” casual.
“In fact, they are more properly viewed as
full-time or part-time employees,” said ACCER.
“It would appear that there is an increasing number of employees being engaged as ‘casual employees’ over an extended period. This contradicts the commonly
accepted understanding of what is meant by a ‘true’ casual employee – that is an employee engaged on a short-term, irregular and uncertain basis.”
However ACCER conceded this was not the current reality when
it came to ‘casual’ workers. This “misclassification … has occurred, is occurring and, in all likelihood, may continue to occur in the future,” it said.