Work changes to Casual Employment
Whether you are a business owner, a casual employee or know anyone working casually, this is useful information and worth sharing.
What you need to know.
As you may be aware, in March this year the Fair Work Act was amended to alter the rights of casual employees through the Fair Work Amendment Act 2021.
These amendments provide more options and support to the Australian casual workforce following the financial impact of COVID-19.
What are the new changes for Businesses?
- You have to give every new casual employee a Casual Employment Information Statement before or as soon as possible after they have started their job.
- Small business owners with less than 15 employees need to provide all casual employees with the Casual Employment Information Statement (CEIS) as soon as possible after 21 March 2021. Businesses with more than 15 employees must do so from 27 September 2021.
- The CEIS has information about:
– the definition of a casual employee
– when an employer has to offer casual conversion
– when an employer doesn’t have to offer casual conversion
– when a casual employee can request casual conversion
– casual conversion entitlements of casual employees employed by small business employers
– the role of the Fair Work Commission to deal with disputes about casual conversion.
- The Fair Work Act now defines a casual worker as – “a person is a casual employee if they accept a job offer from an employer knowing that there is no firm advance commitment to ongoing work with an agreed pattern of work”.
- Casual employees should have access to a pathway to become a permanent employee (previously known as ‘casual conversion’).
- You have to offer a casual employee an option to convert to full time or part time when the employee has worked with you for 12 months; has worked a regular pattern of hours for the last 6 of those months and could continue to work those hours without significant changes. Some exceptions apply for small businesses and if you have “reasonable grounds” for not making the offer for casual conversion.
What do Businesses need to do?
Sometimes we find organisations reach a point where they have long term employees on their payroll who have worked the same pattern of hours over 12 months or more, who would be able to perform their role as a permanent employee. Employees in this situation may consider themselves entitled to rights such as paid leave. If this isn’t managed well by your business, and the options to transfer to permanent isn’t communicated to entitled employees, this may pose a range of risks to your organisation.
So how can these risks be mitigated?
- Provide all casual employees with a copy of the Casual Employment Information Statement.
- Have a discussion with your casual employees about their employment status.
- If an agreement of conversion to permanent employment is decided, please issue a new employment contract to your employee.
- If your employee wants to remain a casual worker, please formally document the conversation, stating that the opportunity to transfer to permanent employment has been given and declined. This provides a reference point for you and your employees and ensures their rights have been clearly communicated.
- Include in your casual roster that all working hours and shifts are subject to change and can be refused by the employee.
- Regularly hold discussions with employees about their working status, communicate their options for contract changes and record decisions made.
- Update your casual employment contract template to suitably state the nature of casual employment and include reference to provision of the Casual Employment Information Statement.
Other Casual employee considerations
- In addition to these changes, casual employees are paid a casual loading or a specific rate of pay. The Pay & Conditions Tool https://calculate.fairwork.gov.au/ can be used to find out the minimum rate that casual employees should be paid.
- Remember, casual employees are also entitled to:
– 2 days unpaid carer’s leave.
– 2 days unpaid compassionate leave per occasion.
– 5 days unpaid family and domestic violence leave (in a 12-month period).
- Unpaid community service leave.
- Request a flexible working arrangement and unpaid parental leave, subject to meeting requirements.
For more information, please visit the FairWork website and check out the summary of changes on the Changes to casual employment page.
Please remember that Awards will have more provisions for casual employees.
You can use the Fair Work Ombudsman award finder for additional information and entitlements.