The ACTU has welcomed today’s decision by the Australian Industrial Relations Commission awarding maternity and parental leave rights for more than two million casual workers.

The Full Bench decision granted the ACTU’s Parental Leave Test Case application, giving 12 months unpaid maternity leave to casuals who have worked regularly for the same employer for a year or more.

“This is an important decision for the 1.2 million casual employees who have already worked in the same job for 12 months or more and so will be immediately eligible for this new right,” ACTU Secretary Greg Combet said today.

“In the longer term, the benefit will flow to the more than two million casual workers in the Australian workforce. The Full Bench of the Commission has recognised in its decision that it’s unfair that casual workers should not have the entitlements that the rest of the workforce take for granted.

“This decision is an important step in the unions’ ongoing campaign to improve both the job security and living standards of the growing number of casual workers in the modern economy.

“The conditions of casual employment need to be further improved, as many long-term casuals are employed in circumstances for which casual work was never originally intended,” Mr Combet said.

The ACTU application was lodged last November and, despite some initial reluctance, eventually won the support of major employer groups including the Australian Industry Group, the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Australian Hotels Association.