‘Perma-flexi’ work an erosion of secure jobs
An employer proposal to create ‘perma-flexi’ employment would erode fundamental working rights and accelerate casualisation in the workforce.
An application in the Fair Work Commission (FWC), filed by the NSW Business Chamber (NSWBC) seeks to introduce a ‘permanent casual’ position that would cut employees’ casual loading in exchange for leave entitlements and redundancy pay.
Under the proposal to vary the Social Community, Home Care & Disability Services Award, low-paid social and community sector workers could see their guaranteed shifts reduced to as little as one hour per week.
Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) Secretary Sally McManus denounced the NSWBC proposal as ‘fake casual’ work.
"Australia has one of the highest rates of temporary and insecure work in the OECD - we are already an outlier in this area and we need to move towards better, more secure work,” Ms McManus told Workforce Daily.
"If employers have access to yet another category of insecure work they will use it to make permanent positions insecure and people won't have a real choice in that."
If the NSWBC perma-flexi proposal is accepted by the FWC, it could have wide-ranging impacts, including the potential for the classification to be included in other Modern National Awards.
IEUA-QNT Branch Secretary Terry Burke said the attempt by NSWBC to drastically redefine the concept of secure employment was alarming.
“A permanent job and the security this brings is a foundational concept to the average Australian worker,” Mr Burke said.
“We are in the midst of an insecure work crisis with growing levels of casualised and insecure work wreaking devastating impacts upon workers who aspire to a secure job.
“Members in Queensland Catholic schools recently shared their stories about the many hardships caused by insecure work, including being unable to start a family, secure a home loan or adequately provide for their loved ones.
“The last thing we need is employers granted even greater power to lock workers into casualised arrangements.
“The proposal that workers would trade off their casual loading for guaranteed hours as little as one hour per week goes against established principles of casual work in this country.”
Mr Burke said unions’ Change The Rules campaign has long-called for an overhaul of our broken industrial rules.
“Members know far too well that our industrial rules are skewed in favour of employers – the difficulty to bargain effectively, the suppression of wages growth and instances like the NSWBC proposal are clear examples,” Mr Burke said.
The NSWBC proposal follows a significant FWC decision (WorkPac v Skene) last year which saw a casual labour hire worker at Rio Tinto granted an annual leave payout upon termination after it was established the worker had a “regular and continuous pattern of work”.
The decision was welcomed by unions as an acknowledgment of the misuse of casual work. The federal government is now attempting to regulate the impacts of the WorkPac v Skene decision and limit backpay for staff wrongly categorised as casuals.
Read more about the Change The Rules campaign at https://www.qieu.asn.au/campaign-updates/change-the-rules/