On 26 March 2021, the Fair Work Act (2009) was amended to change the rights and obligations of casual employees in the workplace and the changes came into effect on 27 March 2021.
Please read and take note of the following key changes outlined in the Amendment Act and observe what you (as an employer) need to do in relation to your casual employees.
What are the key changes?
- Casual Employment Information Statement
- Definition of casual employment
- Pathway for casual employees to move into full-time (permanent) or part-time positions of employment.
The Casual Employment Information Statement must be provided to all casual employees (along with the Fair Work Information Statement) and provides information about:
- The definition of a casual employee.
- When an employer does and does not need to offer casual conversion.
- When a casual employee can request casual conversion.
- The casual conversion entitlements of casual employees employed by small business employers.
- The role of the Fair Work Commission and Fair Work Ombudsman in dealing with disputes about casual conversion.
Under the new definition of casual employment, a person is considered a casual employee if they accept a job offer from an employer knowing that there will be no firm advance commitment to ongoing work with an agreed pattern of work.
Once employed, an employee will continue to be a casual employee until they either:
- Become a permanent employee through:
- casual conversion or
- are offered and accept a full-time or part-time employment position
- Stop being employed by the employer.
For existing employees, it should be noted that casuals employed before 27 March 2021 and whose initial employment offer meets the new definition will continue to be casual employees under the Fair Work Act.
The Amendment Act introduces a new entitlement to the National Employment Standards (NES) which gives casual employees a pathway to enter full-time or part-time positions of employment, otherwise known as ‘casual conversion’.
An employer (other than a small business employer) must offer their casual employee to convert to full-time or part-time employment when the employee:
- Has worked for the employer for 12 months
- Has worked a regular pattern of hours for at least the last 6 of those months on an ongoing basis
- Could continue working those hours as a permanent employee without significant changes
Some exceptions apply, including:
- Small business employers (defined as those businesses with less than 15 employees)
- If an employer has ‘reasonable grounds’ not to make an offer to a casual employee for casual conversion.
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What do you need to do in relation to your casual employees?
As an employer, there are certain changes you need to be aware of in relation to your casual employees, these include:
- Amend their casual employment contracts to meet the new definition of ‘casual employee’ outlined in the Fair Work Act.
- Issue all existing employees a copy of the Casual Employment Information Statement and incorporate measures which will ensure all new casual employees receive a copy shortly after commencement. The statement can be found here: https://www.fairwork.gov.au/employee-entitlements/national-employment-standards/casual-employment-information-statement
- Determine whether your business is a small business employer, and otherwise implement systems which ensure all casual employees are assessed at the 12-month mark and are offered permanent or part-time employment, or failing that, explaining in writing why an offer will not be made.
- Be prepared to respond to employee requests to convert to permanent or part-time employment.
- Be aware that casual employees have the right to bring claims to the Commission.
How can we help?
For further information about these changes, please visit the Fair Work Ombudsman website: https://www.fairwork.gov.au/about-us/news-and-media-releases/website-news/reforms
If you are still unsure about the new changes to casual employment or are looking for clarification on something, please call or email us at any time as we would be more than happy to help!