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Labour hire

The most-read stories on Shortlist recently have covered: New verticals and acquisitions key to Chandler Macleod's "growth play"; Expelled on-hire worker reinstated to host site; Casual employment developments; and more.

The full articles summarised below are accessible with a subscription or free trial of Shortlist.

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New verticals and acquisitions key to Chandler Macleod's "growth play"

Chandler Macleod Group is moving into new sectors and hoping to make some acquisitions in the next stage of its "growth play", says CEO Peter Acheson.

The company is "switching gears a bit" now that the local region is largely COVID-free, he tells Shortlist.

Previously focused on managing costs and being in "good shape to get through the downturn", the effort is now on growing its market share "for the rest of the year and, more importantly, in 2021".

There are three main growth opportunities, Acheson says. The first priority is "the organic growth play", by maximising current opportunities and targeting "an above-average share of our customers' spend".

CMG is also looking to target new sectors "in a big way", including infrastructure, with a small team already focused on large contracts in that space.

Thirdly, Acheson says the company will look to supplement organic growth with "one or two bolt-on acquisitions" over the next 12 months, where they "make a good fit... and we can fully integrate the business into our platform".

IT and digital specialist Peoplebank, which merged with CMG in 2019, would "love to acquire a business or two in that space", for example.

There have also been a lot of "opportunities presented" to the group, including businesses that are "slightly distressed as a result of COVID, and we'll look at those as well", he adds.

Read more: New verticals and acquisitions key to Chandler Macleod's "growth play"

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Expelled on-hire worker reinstated to host site

The Fair Work Commission has ordered a labour hire company to reinstate a sacked on-hire worker to his role, against the host employer's wishes.

The Chelgrave Contracting Australia Pty Ltd employee was stood down on full pay in April this year following a safety incident in which he failed to follow proper procedures while performing maintenance on a machine. Chelgrave then conducted an investigation, which recommended he receive a written final warning.

However, host employer Carlton United Breweries (CUB) alleged that the employee had committed three breaches of its company "lifesaver" rules, and had demonstrated misconduct on other issues. It instructed Chelgrave to permanently remove the worker from its site.

Chelgrave's general manager then phoned the worker to inform him, and sent an email to confirm that CUB had requested he not return, terminating his employment with immediate effect.

In unfair dismissal proceedings, Commissioner Nicholas Wilson noted that in cases involving labour hire arrangements, the contractual terms in place between the labour provider and host are relevant, but there is no "presumption" to be made that an instruction to remove a worker is a universal term.

Further: "The Commission will take account of a failure by a labour hire employer to form an independent view about whether the employee has engaged in misconduct if that is alleged."

Read more: Expelled on-hire worker reinstated to host site

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Casual employment developments

The Fair Work Commission has handed down important rulings for employers on calculating overtime rates for casual employees, and what constitutes regular and systematic employment.

The overtime for casuals decision provides that from 20 November, these rates for casual employees engaged under 96 awards must be calculated one of three ways:

  1. in substitution for casual loading; or
  2. in addition to casual loading (the "cumulative basis"); or
  3. in addition to the employee's minimum hourly rate plus casual loading (the "compounding basis").

The compounding approach is "particularly controversial for employers", says Kingston Reid partner Christa Lenard, and it was strongly opposed by employer representatives because it's seen as "paying a penalty on a penalty".

She urges leaders to check their award for which approach applies, and she notes that while EA-covered employers don't yet have to take action, this will need to be factored into better-off-overall-test (BOOT) considerations during their next bargaining round.

Meanwhile another case involves a casual-turned-permanent employee with 15 months' combined service who in September was denied unfair dismissal protection for not completing the minimum employment period.

Last week an FWC full bench overturned that ruling, finding her casual employment was regular (evidenced by timesheet records) and systematic (under an established rostering system), allowing her claim to proceed.

The bench's reasoning is "a reminder that a casual's hours need not be consistent or predictable for their work to be consider 'regular and systematic'", Lenard says.

Given the Rossato decision and until the Federal Government provides legislative change and some further clarity around who is a true casual and what they're entitled to, employers must "really assess whether [employees] are casual or whether or not you're better off employing them under a permanent part-time arrangement", Lenard says.

Subscribe to watch a short Q&A briefing on both cases: Q&A: Casual employment developments

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