The Fair Work Amendment (Supporting Australia’s Jobs and Economic Recovery) Act 2021 has amended the Fair Work Act to change workplace rights and obligations for casual employees.
Definition of a casual employee
The Fair Work Act has been amended to include a new definition of a casual employee.
Under the new definition, a person is a casual employee of an employer if:
(a) 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
(b) the person accepts the offer on that basis; and
(c) the person is an employee as a result of that acceptance.
Once employed as a casual, an employee will continue to be a casual employee until they either become a permanent employee through casual conversion, or are offered and accept the offer of full-time or part-time employment, or stop being employed by the employer.
Casuals who were employed immediately before 27 March 2021 and whose initial employment offer meets the new definition continue to be casual employees.
Casual conversion to a permanent employee
A casual employee now has a pathway to becoming a full-time or part-time (permanent) employee. This is also known as ‘casual conversion’.
An employer (other than a small business employer) has to offer their casual employee to convert to full-time or part-time (permanent) when the employee:
- has worked for their employer for 12 months
- has worked a regular pattern of hours for at least the last 6 of those months on an ongoing basis and could continue working those hours as a permanent employee without significant changes.
Some exceptions apply, including small business employers or if an employer has ‘reasonable grounds’ not to make an offer to a casual employee for casual conversion.
There are rules for how employers and employees need to make and respond to offers. There are also rules for offering casual conversion to existing casual employees.
Casual employees have a right to request to convert to full-time or part-time (permanent) employment in some circumstances. This applies:
- for casual employees working for a small business – at any time if they meet the requirements
- for other casual employees – after their employer has decided not to make an offer for casual conversion.
If an employee declines an offer of conversion, as long as they remain eligible, they may request conversion every six months, however, an employer can refuse on reasonable grounds or where it would require a significant adjustment to the employee’s hours of work.
Casual Employment Information Statement
From 27 March 2021 employers have to give every new casual employee a Casual Employment Information Statement (the CEIS) before, or as soon as possible after, they start their new job.
Existing casual employees (employed before 27 March 2021) must be given a copy of the CEIS as soon as possible after 27 September 2021.
Employers aren’t required to give casual employees the CEIS more than once in any 12 month period.
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Author: David Jacobson
Principal, Bright Corporate Law
About David Jacobson
The information contained in this article is not legal advice. It is not to be relied upon as a full statement of the law. You should seek professional advice for your specific needs and circumstances before acting or relying on any of the content.