On 26 March 2021, the rights and obligations of casual employees outlined in the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) (the Act) were amended by the Fair Work Amendment (Supporting Australia’s Jobs and Economic Recovery) Act 2021 (Cth) (the Amendment Act).
From 27 March 2021, amendments have been made to the Act relating to:
- how casual employment is defined;
- how casuals may move to permanent employment; and
- the introduction of the Casual Employment Information Statement.
Definition of Casual Employment
As a result of the Amendment Act, a person will be considered a casual employee if they accept employment knowing that there is no firm advance commitment to ongoing work with an agreed pattern of work. Moving forward, it is likely that the “firm advance commitment” portion of the definition will be a significant factor in determining whether an employee is a true casual.
Once employed as a casual, an employee will continue to be a casual employee until they either:
- become a permanent employee (either by way of casual conversion or if they accept an offer of permanent employment); or
- their employment ceases.
Casuals who were employed immediately before the Amendment Act came into operation and whose initial employment offer meets the new definition will continue to be considered casual employees for the purposes of the Act.
A number of modern Awards already contain a process whereby a causal employee may request conversion to permanent employment after completing a recognised period of service. However, the Amendment Act now introduces this entitlement to the National Employment Standards which apply irrespective of what is contained within the applicable Award.
An employer (other than a business which employs less than 15 staff members) has to offer conversion to permanent employment when the casual 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 to their employment.
If an employer has reasonable grounds not to offer permanent employment conversion, an exception may apply.
Casual Employment Information Statement
As a result of the Amendment Act, all casual employees must now be provided with a Casual Employment Information Statement (the Statement) at the commencement of their employment in addition to the Fair Work Information Statement.
Any business which employs less than 15 people must give their current casual employees a copy of the Statement as soon as possible.
If a business employs 15 or more people, the Statement must be provided to current casual employees as soon as possible after 27 September 2021.
If you have any questions regarding the above amendments, please do not hesitate to contact our Workplace Team. If you would like to learn more regarding the Amendment Act and it’s impact on employers, please register for our Workplace Law Workshop on COVID-19 and Casuals.