Court Finds Casual Worker Can Accrue Long Service Leave in Important Legal Victory

Today, casual workers can celebrate after a court has reinforced that non-permanent employees could be entitled to long service leave.

In setting a significant precedent, the Supreme Court of South Australia squashed an appeal by Flinders Ports, who were fighting the Industrial Magistrate’s decision that found a casual harbour worker was eligible for long service entitlements.

Unfortunately the worker who originally took up the fight in 2012, Desmond Woolford, died before finding out today’s result.

Mr Woolford worked general duties at Port Lincoln Harbour for 18 years until he suffered a work-related injury in 2008. In that time the port had changed hands from the State Government to Flinders Ports.

In the wake of his death the Maritime Union of Australia took up the Supreme Court case on his behalf.

One of the three Supreme Court Judges on the panel, Justice Stanley, found it was irrelevant that the worker was on a casual contract.

“The fundamental question is whether there was continuous service for the specified number of years,” Justice Stanley said in his judgment.

“It does not matter for the purposes of the LSL (Long Service Leave) Act whether the [employer] rostered the deceased for work in a particular week or not.The fact is that the deceased was obliged to be available for work when required by the [employer].”

MUA SA Branch Secretary Jamie Newlyn, who was in the court when the judgment was handed down, said it was a great result for casual employees.

“It’s a shame Mr Woolford wasn’t able to be here today, because he’s started something that will have huge implications for everyone employed on casual contracts,” Mr Newlyn said.

“Today’s judgment sends a strong message to all those employers who over-utilise casual workers as a way to diminish worker’s rights and conditions.

“Hopefully this will be the end of the road and Flinders Ports will concede the loss but I am not overly optimistic.

“I am sure the cabal of peak bodies and their anti-worker mates will be strategizing their next move to stamp out this win for workers.”