Over the last 12 months there have been many changes regarding what your obligations as an employer are around Casual Conversion.
One of the changes made as a result of the four-yearly review of Modern Awards conducted by the Fair Work Commission, was the inclusion of casual conversion provisions in the majority of Modern Awards . Employers were required to act in relation to these new provisions as of 1 January 2019 to maintain Award compliance (see below).
There has been much grey area around the true definition of the term 'casual', and confusion around what this means for employers. Below, we again look into what the new casual conversion clause is, and how employers can ensure they continue to meet obligations.
What is a casual conversion clause?
The casual conversion clause provides casual employees with the right to request part-time or full-time work if they meet select criteria.
What is the criteria?
For a casual employee to request permanent work, they must be considered a regular casual employee meaning that in the 12 months preceding the request they have worked a pattern of hours on an ongoing basis which, without significant adjustment, the employee could continue to perform as a full-time or part-time employee under the provisions of the Award.
Depending on the hours worked over the 12 months preceding the request, a casual employee can either request conversion to full-time or part-time employment.
How can employees request conversion?
If the select criteria has been met, the employee is able to request casual conversion by putting their request in writing and submitting to the organisation for review.
Can an employer refuse?
Following consultation with the employee, an employer is able to refuse the request if the decision is based on reasonable grounds. Reasonable grounds need to be based on facts or something that is foreseeable. Further information concerning reasonable grounds for refusal can be found within your Award.
If an employer refuses the request, this needs to be clearly communicated in writing to the employee within 21 days of receiving the request. If this is challenged by the employee, it is subject to the dispute resolution procedure that is outlined in the relevant award.
What needs to be done if this is approved?
If the request is approved, the decision must be communicated in writing to the employee.
The change will take effect from the next pay cycle. The contract for the employee will need to be amended to reflect the change to employment status.
80 Modern Awards have now been updated to include a clause regarding the request for casual conversion.
What does this mean for Employers?
This means that a casual employee, who is employed regularly has the right request that their employment is made permanent. However, the employer does have the right to refuse on reasonable business grounds.
By now, Employers should have:
1. Identified if a modern award is applicable to their casual employees.
2. Checked if the Award has been updated to include a conversion clause, and;
3. If it does, ensure your employees are notified as per your obligations.
The notification was required to be sent by 1 January 2019 – so it is well overdue if you missed this date.
For any new casuals that you employ under an Award – notification must be provided during the first 12 months of employment.
In addition to casual conversion provisions, the following changes have also taken effect:
- Variations to rostering arrangements in the Social, Community, Home Care and Disability Services Industry Award 2010 and the Aged Care Award 2010 to clarify that rostering arrangements and changes to rosters may be communicated by any electronic means of communication; and
- Variations to the minimum engagement provisions for part-time and casual employees in some Modern Awards.
If you have questions and would like more information on what the changes to the Modern Award mean for your organisation, please contact our team of experts.