Catholic Religious Australia has supported the Albanese Government’s proposed Fair Work legislation in a submission that calls for better protections for workers at risk of being exploited in precarious employment arrangements.
In its submission, CRA endorsed the Fair Work Legislation (Closing Loopholes) Bill’s changed definition of “casual”, which places primacy on the reality of employment over time, allowing a worker to apply to their employee to become permanent after six months if work arrangements have changed.
This would reverse a previous definition set by the previous Morrison government whereby the contractual “casual” title when employed remains in place for the duration of employment.
CRA raised concerns with this definition at the time, saying it denies the shifting dynamics of employment relationships, especially in relation to casuals.
“The increasing casualisation of the Australian workforce can leave many Australians in an unstable and precarious financial position, without access to the benefits of permanent employment,” said CRA president Fr Peter Jones OSA.
CRA also applauded the bill’s provision to provide the Fair Work Commission the power to set “minimum standards orders” for gig workers employed via digital platforms, on matters such as payment terms, deductions and working time.
“While this is a positive step, the Bill does not give the Fair Work Commission the power to implement a full suite of minimum standards, with overtime rates, rostering arrangements, and the ability to turn a platform worker into an employee, outside their remit,” said CRA National executive director Anne Walker.
“We encourage the Government to consider further measures to protect the gig economy from becoming an entrenched underclass of “employee-like” workers, with limited security and rights,” Fr Jones said.