The introduction of the Passenger Vehicle Transport Award 2010 (Award) on 1 January 2010 reignited the debate as to the interpretation of the minimum “engagement” for casual employees in the bus industry.
The Award, like its predecessor industrial awards in Queensland, requires that a casual bus employee must be paid for a minimum of two hours for each engagement.
It is common practice in the bus industry for employees, particularly employees who drive school buses, to work both a morning and afternoon shift. However, there have been some differences of opinion as to whether such an arrangement constitutes one engagement or two separate engagements.
The Fair Work Ombudsman clearly considers these arrangements constitute two engagements as it recently issued a Queensland bus company with a contravention notice for failing to pay a casual employee for a minimum of two hours for each of the two engagements the employee was taken to have worked each day.
Given the view of the Fair Work Ombudsman it is imperative that employers in the bus industry review the way in which they are paying their casual employees. In particular, casual employees who work split shifts must be paid for a minimum of two hours for each shift.
The Fair Work Ombudsman can enter the employer’s premises to investigate non-compliance with awards, require employers to produce information and documents, issue compliance or infringement notices and commence proceedings against an employer in the Federal Magistrates Court or the Federal Court.
A breach of an award may attract a maximum penalty of $6,600 for individuals and $33,000 for corporations for each breach.