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Casual workers can claim unpaid wages when shifts are cancelled mid shift

In the context of contract law, particularly as it relates to employment in Australia, the concept of lost opportunity refers to the potential earnings or benefits an employee misses out on due to actions taken by the employer that are not in line with the agreed terms of employment or relevant legal standards.


Lost opportunity

For a casual employee who is rostered for eight hours but then sent home after three hours, the lost opportunity primarily consists of the wages for the five hours they were scheduled to work but did not due to being sent home early.


The capacity of a casual employee to appeal through the Fair Work Commission (FWC) for unpaid wages or to raise a dispute with the employer depends on several factors, including the terms of their employment contract and the applicable industrial instruments (e.g., awards or enterprise agreements) governing their role.


National Employment Standards

The National Employment Standards (NES) and the Fair Work Act 2009 provide a framework for the rights and obligations of both employers and employees, including casual workers.


If a casual employee believes they have been unfairly deprived of wages for hours they were rostered to work, they may have grounds to raise a dispute.


The first step typically involves addressing the issue directly with the employer, following any internal dispute resolution procedures outlined in their employment contract or the applicable award or agreement. If the matter is not resolved satisfactorily at this level, the employee may then consider escalating the dispute to the FWC.


The FWC offers a range of services to assist with resolving workplace disputes, including mediation and conciliation.

If a dispute cannot be resolved through these means, the FWC may conduct a hearing to make a determination. It is important for employees to be aware of the time frames within which disputes must be lodged with the FWC, as failing to act within these time frames can limit their options for seeking redress.


It's also worth noting that under some awards or agreements, there may be specific provisions regarding minimum shift lengths or compensation for being sent home early, which could further support the employee's claim.


Employees should review the terms of their employment contract and the relevant award or enterprise agreement to understand their rights and obligations in such situations.


Representation

While the FWC can assist with disputes related to the Fair Work Act 2009, it's crucial to note that seeking advice or guidance from a professional with expertise in employment law can provide valuable insights tailored to the specific circumstances of the case.

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