Employers must provide a “Casual Employment Information Statement” (obtained from the below links or directly here) to all casual employees ASAP. Employers should also immediately review their casual employees to ensure they meet the new definition, and if not convert them to permanent employment immediately.
THE PURPOSE OF RECENT CHANGES
Last month the Federal Government passed changes to the Fair Work Act to alter the rights and obligations around casual employees. These amendments achieve three things:
- Preventing “double dipping” for entitlements (e.g. casuals accepting the casual loading pay rate and then trying to claim annual leave);
- Providing a statutory definition of a casual employee; and
- Providing a pathway for conversion from casual to permanent employment.
THE DEFINITION OF A CASUAL EMPLOYEE
A casual employee is now defined as someone:
- With no firm commitment of future work;
- With no set or regular hours (no “pattern of work”);
- Who has agreed that the employment is casual; and
- Has not been (or is not required to be) converted to a permanent employee.
As with all Legislation, it’s a little more complicated than the above, and to satisfy the “no firm commitment of future work” the employment arrangement will need to:
- Enable the employer to choose whether or not they offer shifts each week;
- Enable the employee to choose whether they accept the offered shifts each week;
- Specify that the employment is “casual”; and
- Provide the casual leave loading pay rate (and actually pay the correct rate).
CONVERSIONS FROM CASUAL TO PERMANENT
Part of the changes include a pathway for casual employees to become permanent. This is designed to prevent employees being forever casual and missing out on accrued leave and other benefits.
Essentially, employees that have been casual for 12 months have the right to be moved to permanent employment unless:
- They have not worked a regular pattern of hours during the last 6 months;
- The employer has less than 15 employees; or
- The employer has reasonable grounds to not offer a conversion to permanent employment (we would suggest getting specialist advice if you are relying on this exemption).
Essentially the rules are saying that if an employee is working regular hours after 12 months, they should be a permanent employee. We note that while small businesses don’t have to offer a conversion to permanent employment, staff can ask for it and the business will need to justify why it cannot satisfy that request.
We expect this to be a hot topic as this concept of rejecting casual conversions is likely to cause disagreements between staff and businesses, and staff will ultimately contact FairWork if they don’t believe the rejection is justified. Businesses should be getting specialist advice to ensure their reasons are justifiable.
Employment Law is a specialist field and we recommend that businesses use dedicated HR support for assistance with staffing issues.
We recommend The HR People, and in particular Helen Stevenson. We have dealt with Helen previously in our own business and found her and the team at The HR People to be efficient and thorough without charging an arm and a leg.
We note that as with all of the businesses and services we recommend, we do not accept kick-backs or referral payments – simply we use them, we like them, and we think you will too.