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October 1, 2003

Casual overtime super overturned

From: The Age, Australia - Oct 1, 2003

Casual employees will not be paid superannuation for overtime and penalty work, the High Court ruled.

A majority of the seven High Court judges agreed that Brisbane-based Australian Communication Exchange (ACE) - a national telephone translation service for the deaf - did not have to make super payments on work outside so-called ordinary hours.

High Court justices Michael McHugh, William Gummow, Ian Callinan, and Dyson Heydon ruled that the Queensland Clerical Employees Award defined ordinary working hours as only those paid at the standard rate.

The decision overturned a November 2001 full Federal Court ruling.

Peak employer body the Australian Industry Group (Ai Group) said the decision had national implications, and would come as a relief to employers across the country.

"The way the decision has come down, it really takes that risk (of paying super on overtime hours) away," Ai Group national industrial relations director Stephen Smith told AAP.

"The wording of the Queensland award is really very similar to most national awards."

He said the decision restored the common interpretation that superannuation was not payable on overtime earnings for both casual and permanent staff.

The High Court ruled flexibility of casual work could be regarded as compensation for sacrificing other advantages such as superannuation.

Casuals are paid a 19 per cent loading under the Queensland award.

ACE, which employs about 100 casuals for its seven-day-a-week service relaying voice and text messages, was funded by the Australian Taxation Office through the appeal.

©2003 AAP