There's been some critical changes to the Fair Work Act regarding casual employment. If you employ casual staff this is a MUST READ because these legislative changes will impact you.
On Friday 26 March 2021, the Fair Work Act 2009 (FW Act) was amended to change workplace rights and obligations for casual employees. The changes were made by the Fair Work Amendment (Supporting Australia’s Jobs and Economic Recovery) Act 2021 (Amendment Act).
These changes came into effect on Saturday 27 March 2021.
What has changed?
The Amendment Act introduces a:
- Casual Employment Information Statement.
- definition of casual employment.
- pathway for casual employees to move to full-time or part-time (permanent) employment.
Requirements for Casual Employment Information Statement
Similar to when a new employee starts employment with your business you’re required to provide them a copy of the Fair Work Information Statement. For casual employees, you must now include in their onboarding documents a copy of the Fair Work Casual Employment Information Statement (CEIS). The CEIS needs to be provided to:
- new casual employees before, or as soon as possible after, they start their new position.
- existing casual employees of a small business (employers with fewer than 15 employees) as soon as possible after 27 March 2021; and
- existing casual employees of other employers as soon as possible after 27 September 2021.
Changes to the definition of a casual employment arrangement
Under the new definition, a person is a casual employee if they accept a job offer from an employer on the basis that the employer makes no firm advance commitment to continuing and indefinite work according to an agreed pattern of work.
Importantly, a regular pattern of hours does not in itself indicate a firm advance commitment to continuing and indefinite work. Effectively meaning the basis of casual employment is determined by the offer and acceptance of employment.
Implying it is critical to ensure you have a written contract executed by your casual employees to accommodate the new definition and covers in detail the nature of the employment.
Pathway for casual employees to move to full-time or part-time (permanent) employment.
The Amendment Act adds a new entitlement to the National Employment Standards (NES) giving casual employees a pathway to become a full-time or part-time (permanent) employee. This is also known as 'casual conversion'.
An employer (other than a small business employer) has to offer their casual employee to convert to full-time or part-time (permanent) when the employee:
- has worked for their employer for 12 months
- has worked a regular pattern of hours for at least the last 6 of those months on an ongoing basis
- could continue working those hours as a permanent employee without significant changes.
the NES, you would be required to offer casual conversion unless you can
establish that the employee has not worked a regular pattern of hours over the
past 6 months or there are reasonable business grounds preventing you from
making an offer.
If you are required to make an offer under the NES, it must be made in writing to the employee within 21 days after they reach 12 months of employment and it should reflect the hours that the employee has worked. Alternatively, if you are not making an offer, you are required to write to the employee within that same timeframe with the reasons why an offer is not being made for conversion.
Lastly, if a dispute arises regarding casual conversion, a dispute may be raised with the FWC.
If you require assistance to ensure your business is meeting its obligation and is adhering to the new legislative conditions, please do not hesitate to reach out to us, we would be happy to help.
HR compliance is a big risk factor when employing staff - Please download the below FREE HR Audit & Workplace Compliance Risk Checklist to ensure your business is stacking up in all employment areas. If your checklist is showing more ticks in the ‘no’ column, no problems! We can partner with you to review all aspects of your HR practices and provide professional advice and strategies to ensure you are compliant.
Even if you are on track with the HR compliance items, we can still advisor you in other areas of your business such as:
- Team & Culture.
- Building Strategies; to attract, motivate, engage, and retain employees.
- HR Systems & Processes.
References & Disclaimer
** The above information is general in nature. The applicable modern award or the registered agreement may provide different entitlements and definitions than discussed.
- Resources: Fair Work Commission Changes to casual employment – industrial relations reforms – Fair Work Ombudsman
- HR Legal: Changes to casual employment – industrial relations reforms – Fair Work Ombudsman