Over 80 modern awards were varied earlier this year to include a model casual conversion clause which allows regular casual employees to ask that their casual employment be converted to full or part time employment. A regular casual employee is a casual employee who has worked a pattern of hours over the preceding 12 months which the employee could continue to perform as a full or part time employee without significant adjustment.
Employers should check the relevant award(s) that apply to the business, as the majority of modern awards require that employers:
Provide a copy of the relevant award clause dealing with casual conversion rights to all casual employees (even if they are not regular casual employees as described above); and
Provide this notice to new employees within the first 12 months of their engagement and to existing casual employees by no later than 1 January 2019.
What has changed?
The model award terms provide that:
A casual employee who has worked a regular pattern of hours over at least 12 months and could continue to work those hours as a full or part time employee without any significant changes may ask to change to full or part time employment. The request to convert must be made in writing;
A regular casual employee who has worked equivalent full time hours over the preceding 12 months may ask to convert to full-time employment;
A regular casual employee who has worked less than full time hours over the preceding 12 months may ask to convert to part-time employment consistent with the pattern of hours previously worked;
The employer can agree to the request or refuse on reasonable grounds after consulting with the employee;
If a request to convert is refused, it must be done in writing setting out the reasons for the refusal within 21 days of the employee making their request;
Reasonable grounds for refusing a request to convert include that:
(a) It would require a significant adjustment to the casual employee’s hours of work to engage them as a full or part time employee in accordance with the provisions of the applicable award;
(b) It is known or reasonably foreseeable that the employee’s position will cease to exist within the next 12 months or that their hours of work will be significantly reduced over the next 12 months; or
(c) It is known or reasonably foreseeable that there will be a significant change in the days and/or times the employee will be required to work over the next 12 months which cannot be accommodated within the days and/or hours the employee is available to work;
If the request is agreed, it needs to be discussed and the relevant details recorded in writing;
Once a casual employee has converted to full or part time employment, they may only revert to casual employment with the employer’s written agreement; and
A regular casual employee is not to obliged to convert to full or part time employment and an employer may not require a regular casual employee to convert.
What should you do now?
Check the modern awards applicable to your employees to identify whether a casual conversion clause applies and it’s requirements; and
If required in the award, give a copy of the conversion clause to all new casual employees within the first 12 months of their first engagement and importantly, to existing casual employees on or before 1 January 2019.
If you need assistance to comply with the new rules, please contact Hannah at email@example.com, Patricia at firstname.lastname@example.org, Kim at email@example.com or Elizabeth at firstname.lastname@example.org
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