Damaging ‘Closing Loopholes’ Bill Expected to Pass Today with Support from Crossbench

8 February 2024

Key Senate crossbenches David Pocock and Jacqui Lambie have reached a deal with the government to pass the Closing the Loopholes No.2 Bill - which is expected to pass through the Senate later today. The legislation, and a full explanation of Senator Pocock’s amendments, are yet to be finalised, but as soon as we receive it, explanations and implications of the Bill will be immediately shared with members.

RCSA has been engaging on this bill closely since its tabling and has worked closely with other industry groups to ensure our voices were heard and we were part of crucial conversations. RCSA has been vocal in condemning this damaging bill and has met with the government and key crossbenchers on numerous occasions, to negotiate for better outcomes for our industry - and our efforts have ensured the Bill today is significantly less damaging for our members than the initial iteration.

The Bill contains changes to casual employment and introduces a definition of employment that will impact future independent contracting arrangements. While we have yet to see any drafting of changes negotiated by Cross Bench Senators, a media release issued by Senator Pocock yesterday evening stated that his amendments would:

  • Ensure the changes to casuals provisions will not be enforced for six months after Royal Assent, to give businesses and employers time to adjust to these new frameworks
  • Broaden the capacity for employees to enter into fixed term contracts as casual employees. The amendment would ensure all other employees may be engaged on fixed term contracts as casual; except for academics covered by certain modern awards in the higher education sector. This largely resolves concerns raised by on-hire companies offering temp contracts.
  • Allow employers to refuse an employee request for conversion on “fair and reasonable operational grounds”
  • Increase from one to two (out of three) the number of criteria someone needs to meet to be defined as employee-like

Additional information regarding this legislation will be shared in the coming days, once the details are finalised.

Should members have questions please don’t hesitate to reach out to Lily Andrews in RCSA’s advocacy team on 0448 332 610 or at [email protected]