Casual employees covered by modern awards and who work a regular pattern of work will soon have rights to obtain a conversion to permanent part-time or full-time employment.
As part of the current four-yearly review, the Fair Work Commission has decided that modern awards should include a casual conversion clause.1 The reasoning for the inclusion of this type of clause is that a casual employee who works a regular pattern of work for a prolonged period, with a reasonable expectation of ongoing work, should have the right to be employed on a permanent basis.
In many industries, the operational staffing model will need to change significantly because of this change.
The clause will allow casual employees to request their employment to be converted from casual to permanent if they have been employed for at least 12 months, and have worked an ongoing pattern of hours. The employer may refuse this request, but the refusal must only be on reasonable grounds. Such grounds include that:
- the conversion would require a significant adjustment to the casual employee’s hours of work to be engaged as a permanent full-time or part-time employee under the provisions of the award;
- it is known or reasonably foreseeable that the casual employee’s position will cease to exist within the next 12 months; and
- it is known or reasonably foreseeable that the casual employee’s regular hours, days, or times of work will be significantly reduced or changed in the next 12 months.
If the employer refuses the request, they must provide notice to the employee, with reasons for refusal, within 21 days of the request. If an agreement is reached between the employer and the employee, the terms must be in writing.
Employers will be required to provide all casual employees with a copy of these award provisions within 12 months of their employment. Employer’s must not reduce or change a casual employee’s pattern of hours to avoid the obligations created by these provisions.
The addition of the clause in modern awards may affect enterprise agreements, as it is another consideration that will be taken into account when the Commission performs its Better Off Overall Test.
The clause will be added on an award by award basis, subject to an order by the Commission. The final form of those orders is in the process of being settled with the employer and union parties.
Require further information/assistance?
If you require further information or advice, please contact your local Consultant at either our Adelaide or Melbourne offices.
1  FWCFB 3541.