By Sean Melbourne
Do you have casual employees that have been with your business for 12 months or longer? As of 1 October 2018, your long-term casual employees may have a right to ask to be converted to permanent employment following changes the Fair Work Commission made to more than 80 Modern Awards.
Employers are required to notify their employees about these changes by 1 January 2019.
The changes mean that most employees covered by an Award now have a right to request conversion to part-time or full-time employment once they have been employed for 12 months, provided they meet the eligibility criteria.
Some of the Awards that have the new casual conversion provisions include:
- Banking, Finance and Insurance Award 2010
- Clerks – Private Sector Award 2010
- Fast Food Industry Award 2010
- General Retail Industry Award 2010
- Restaurant Industry Award 2010
- Professional Employees Award 2010
- Storage Services and Wholesale Award 2010
Who is eligible to make a casual conversion request?
Under the new provisions, casuals can make the request if, in the previous 12 months, they have worked a pattern of hours on an ongoing basis that, without significant adjustment, they could continue to perform as a part-time or full-time employee.
What are my options if an employee makes a request?
You can either approve or reject the request for your employee to transition from casual to permanent employment.
If you approve a request, they will be converted to a permanent employee.
You may only refuse a request if you have first discussed the request with your employee. Also, any refusal must be made on ‘reasonable grounds.’ For example, this would apply where the hours the employee works would need to be significantly adjusted or their hours are likely to change in the next 12 months. Each award contains a list of possible grounds for refusal.
You must provide your employee with reasons for the refusal within 21 days of the request being made.
If an employee disagrees with a decision to refuse a request, they can make an application to the Fair Work Commission to hear the dispute.
How should I notify my employees of the changes?
You must notify all casual employees who were employed on 1 October 2018 that they may request conversion by providing them with the casual conversion clause in the applicable award. This notice must given by 1 January 2019.
For all employees who become employed after 1 October 2018, you must provide them with a copy of the casual conversion clause within the first 12 months of their employment.
Be sure to check the specific provisions in your Award
There are now casual conversion provisions in most Modern Awards. However, the specific provisions vary between Awards so you should check the particular Award that applies to your employees to see exactly what your obligations are.
If you need help determining which Award applies to your employees or would like advice about the casual employment provisions, get in touch with our employment lawyer, Sean Melbourne.
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