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Northern Mining & NSW Energy

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Western Australia

Two MEU members next to a large coal digger


Workpac v Skene

September 24, 2018

In the Workpac v Skene decision, the Federal Court found that that casual haul truck operator Paul Skene wasn’t really a casual due to the regular and continuous nature of his work on a fixed roster. He was therefore entitled to receive accrued annual leave pay on termination of his employment with WorkPac. The decision means that employees in similar regular and continuous employment may be entitled to paid annual and personal leave, even if their employer classifies them as casual. This is an important win for workers in coal mining.

What is the Union doing?

The Union has written to mine operators and labour hire companies nationally to draw their attention to the decision and its implications for their workforce. After all, most labour hire employees provided by WorkPac and other labour hire firms to coal mine operators are employed as ‘casuals’, but have regular and continuous work patterns.

We have urged mining and labour hire companies to urgently review employment arrangements for all employees to ensure they are legally compliant by providing relevant entitlements, such as paid leave. We are now beginning the process of developing claims for affected members.

Who does this decision affect?
This decision is relevant to members who are or have been working in the following circumstances:

  • Employed as a ‘casual’ and assigned to a host employer in the coal mining industry
  • Paid a flat hourly rate for all rostered hours
  • Provided with a fixed roster that sets out working days well into the future Worked regular, full time hours under that roster for an extended period of time.

I think I have a claim, what should I do?

If you are a current employee at WorkPac, we will deal with your claim first. We are writing to members at WorkPac in this regard and if you do not receive correspondence in the next few days please contact your District Office.

If you are a former Workpac employee, or you work for another labour hire company, we will pursue your claim next. You can start preparing by compiling information about your contracted work arrangements, length of service, roster details and any correspondence and paperwork provided by your employer.

What about non-members?

We are asking mine operators and labour hire companies to do the right thing by all employees by reviewing employment arrangements and providing relevant entitlements. However, we will only pursue legal claims for compensation on behalf of Union members.

If you have affected co-workers who are not Union members, we will consider their claims if they join the Union.

You should remind non-members that the legal firms who will try to jump on the back of the Union win in WorkPac v Skene will take a substantial cut from any settlement they reach on behalf of mineworkers. Only the Union can guarantee that the recovery of entitlements will be free of charge and that all of the money recovered will go to the employee.

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