Changes to casual employment
Do you have a casual employee? Here’s what you should know about changes to casual employment.
On 26 March 2021, the Government has passed an amended version of the Fair Work Amendment (Supporting Australia’s Jobs and Economic Recovery) Bill 2020 to change some sections covering workplace rights and obligations for casual employees.
These changes only apply to national system employers and their casual employees, not State system employers.
Definition of ‘casual employee’
A casual employee does not have a firm commitment in advance from an employer about how long they will be employed for or the days (or hours) they will work. A casual employee also does not commit to all work an employer might offer.
For example, an employee who works to a roster that could change each week and can refuse or swap shifts is casual.
The Amended Omnibus Bill introduces a statutory definition of a casual employee to be included in the Fair Work Act 2009 (FW Act). The definition provides that a casual employee is a person:
- who is offered work with no firm advance commitment to continuing and indefinite work according to an agreed pattern of work
- who accepts the offer of work on that basis, and
- who is employed as a result of that acceptance.
Read more: Casual employee entitlements
The Amended Omnibus Bill includes provisions that enable offers (from employers) and requests (from employees) for casual conversion to permanent employment.
The Bill includes a definition of ‘casual employee’ and provides that after 12 months of employment, casual employees who have worked a regular pattern of hours in the last 6 months will either receive an offer of full-time or part-time employment or a notice with reasons why they have not received an offer.
However, small business employers (being employers who employ less than 15 employees) are not obligated to make offers of casual conversion under these new provisions, although their casual employees are still entitled to make a request for casual conversion. Employees who work for a small business employer will be able to request conversion after 12 months of employment, if they satisfy the same pattern of hours requirement.
Employers will only be able to refuse a request or not offer conversion to eligible employees if they have reasonable grounds based on facts that are known or reasonably foreseeable.
The Bill also provides a statutory offset rule that requires a court to reduce amounts for any entitlements found owing to the employee, by an amount equal to any identifiable casual loading already paid to the employee. This will ensure that where an employee is found by a court not to be a casual employee under the statutory definition, employers will not have to pay the same entitlements twice.
What should employers do?
It is important that you are across these changes and what it means for your business, as there are some new rights and obligations.
As a result of the new amendments becoming law, employers should review the terms and conditions of engagement for their casual employees and identify who may be eligible for casual conversion.
Use the Checklist below to understand your new obligations under the amended Fair Work Act and to assist you in taking the appropriate actions to remain compliant.
Please feel free to reach out if you need any further guidance.
This blog provides general information only and does not consider your specific situation, objectives or needs. It does not represent legal advice upon which any person may act.