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Minimum payment: what if casual goes home sick?

Is a casual employee entitled to a minimum payment stipulated in an award?
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Minimum payment: what if casual goes home sick?

Minimum payment: what if casual goes home sick?

23 April 2021

If casual employees leave work because they are sick, are they entitled to a minimum payment stipulated in an award?

Q Our company operates in the road transport industry and employs several casual drivers. Last week, a casual driver attended work but after about two hours he felt ill and went home. He was subsequently absent for a number of days. The employee has queried the amount paid for the part-day worked.

The employee was paid for time worked but is claiming four hours' pay at the casual rate, which represents the minimum payment for a casual employee prescribed by the Road Transport and Distribution Award 2010. It is our understanding a casual employee is not entitled to paid personal leave.

As the employee reported for work, is he entitled to the minimum payment of four hours at the casual rate despite going home ill after working two hours?
 
A The casual employee would not be entitled to the minimum payment as he left work of his own volition. In the absence of a specific term in the applicable modern award, the general principle relevant to the minimum payment is that a casual employee is entitled to the minimum amount if directed to cease work by the employer before completing the prescribed minimum period.

Where the casual employee is unable or incapable of performing work and consequently leaves work, the minimum payment would not apply. The employee must be ready, willing and able to work to qualify for the minimum payment. The casual employee would be paid only for the time worked.
 
The Road Transport and Distribution Award 2010 (clause 12.5(c)) provides that a casual employee is paid a minimum payment of four hours. Many modern awards prescribe a minimum payment for a casual employee to cover circumstances where an employee presents for work but is sent home by the employer after a short period of time, usually because no work is available.

There is no ‘standard’ minimum payment for casuals. Award provisions vary from a minimum of two hours pay (Hospitality (General) Award) 2010) up to eight hours pay (Road Transport (Long Distance Operations) Award 2010).

Reference should be made to the applicable modern award to determine a casual employee’s entitlement to a minimum payment.
 
Under the National Employment Standards (s95), a casual employee is not entitled to paid personal/carer’s leave.
 
The bottom line: A casual employee’s entitlement to a minimum payment under the terms of the applicable modern award applies only where the employee is directed by the employer to leave work before completing the prescribed minimum period. A casual employee who leaves work of their own volition before completing the prescribed minimum period is paid only for the time worked.

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