On 27 March 2021, three key changes to the Fair Work Act came into effect that amend the workplace
rights and obligations of casual workers. An overview of the changes are as follows:
1. Introduction of the Casual Employment Information Statement
Employers must provide all new casual employees with a copy of the ‘Casual Employment Information Statement’ (Statement) before, or as soon as possible after, they commence their casual job.
In relation to existing casual employees:
Small business employers (being employers with fewer than 15 employees, including casuals who are engaged on a regular and systemic basis) must provide casual employees with a copy of the Statement as soon as possible after 27 March 2021;
All other employers must provide casual employees with a copy of the Statement as soon as possible after 27 September 2021.
The Statement is available on the Fair Work website, via this link.
2. Changed definition of casual employee
The Fair Work Act now includes the following new definition of casual employment as being where: “an offer of employment made by the employer to the person is made on the basis that the employer makes no firm advance commitment to continuing and indefinite work according to an agreed pattern of work for the person; and the person accepts the offer on that basis.” (s. 15A Fair Work Act).
What is considered a ‘firm advance commitment’ can depend on many issues including whether:
the role is referred to as being “casual”;
the employer can choose to offer the employee work when the business has a need, and the employee can then decide whether or not to accept it;
the employee receives a casual loading.
3. Conversion of casual employees to permanent positions
The National Employment Standards (NES) have been amended to provide an entitlement for eligible employees to “convert” to a full time or part time permanent role, in certain circumstances.
An employer (except for a small business employer) must offer a casual employee, in writing, the option to change to a permanent role if the employee:
has been employed by the employer for 12 months; and
during the previous 6 months, has “worked a regular pattern of hours on an ongoing basis which, without significant adjustment, the employee could continue to work as a full‑time employee or a part‑time employee” (s.66B(1) Fair Work Act);
UNLESS there are reasonable grounds to not make such an offer (with such grounds to be based on fact).
While a small business owner does not have to offer permanent employment to casual employees, a casual employee who meets the above criteria can request, in writing, that such a conversion occur. The employer then has 21 days to respond, in writing, as to whether they accept or refuse the request, and their grounds for refusing the request (which must be reasonable in the circumstances).
If you need assistance in relation to employment law matters, please give Jenkins Legal Services a call on 02 4929 2000 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article is not legal advice and the views and comments are of a general nature only. This article is not to be relied upon in substitution for detailed legal advice.