Casuals able to request conversion to part or full-time

In a recent decision by the full bench of the Fair Work Commission, it has determined that modern awards should enable casual employees to elect to convert to full-time or part-time employment, subject to certain rules and restrictions (as the current Electrical, Electronic and Communications Contracting Award 2010 does). The ruling is part of the four-yearly review of modern awards.

The decision said modern awards included a loading for casual employees that "notionally" compensated for the NES entitlements such as sick leave and annual leave but this did not take account of the detriments for adult long-term casuals. On that basis the Commission has developed a draft model clause for casual conversion that provides a qualifying period of 12 months and requires a pattern of hours that could be performed as full-time or part-time employment.

Under the proposed model clause, the employer must provide all casual employees with a copy of the casual conversion clause within 12 months of their initial engagement. However, conversion may be refused on the grounds that:

  • It would require a significant adjustment to the casual employee’s hours of work to accommodate them in full-time or part-time employment under the applicable modern award;
  • It is known or reasonably foreseeable that the casual employee’s position will cease to exist; or
  • The employee’s hours of work will significantly change or be reduced within the next 12 months; or
  • On other reasonable grounds based on facts which are known or reasonably foreseeable.

Casual employees who work regular hours will have the right to apply for permanent employment after 12 months of regular service, but employers will have the right to refuse such requests if refusal is reasonable in the circumstances.

The Commission rejected claims to impose four-hour minimum shifts across the board and instead adopted a two-hour minimum shift requirement where awards are silent.

The Commission is waiting for further submissions by early August before finalising its decision. 

(4 yearly review of modern awards – Casual employment and Part-time employment [2017] FWCFB 3541 (5 July 2017))

Disclaimer: The above summary is not legal advice. Employers should contact NECA Legal (WA) Pty Ltd to discuss casual conversions on (08) 6241 6129 or email necalegalwa@ecawa.org.au