In July this year, the Full Bench of the Fair Work Commission sat to undertake a 4-yearly review of all Modern Awards. The right of casuals to become a permanent employee (i.e. full or part time) was one of the topics that came into focus.
Of the 122 Modern Awards currently in place in Australia, 34 of them already included a clause addressing this issue. As a result of the Full Bench’s decision, 85 of the remaining 88 awards are to also include what is referred to as a ‘casual conversion’ clause.
This clause will set out the criteria by which casuals can be assessed for their eligibility to convert to part time or full time employment. The criteria are:
- A qualifying period of at least 12 months
- The casual employee must have worked a pattern of hours on an ongoing basis which, without significant adjustment, could continue to be performed in accordance with the full-time or part-time employment provisions of the relevant award.
Under the new rules, employers will be required to provide all new casual employees with a copy of the clause within 12 months of beginning employment.
Examples of awards that already included a conversion clause are the Manufacturing and Associated Industries and Occupations Award 2010, and the Building and Construction General On-site Award 2010. Unlike the awards that will have the clause added under the new ruling, these two awards have only a 6-month qualifying period.
Employers will have the option to reject an employee’s request provided there are ‘reasonable grounds’ for refusal. These can include:
- 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, or
- 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.
If an employer does choose to reject an employee’s request, they have 21 days from the date of the request to provide their reasons for refusal in writing.
The Commission were continuing to accept submissions up until 2 August 2017, so at this point the ruling hasn’t been finalised, however the clause is expected to be inserted into the 85 affected awards shortly. We will keep you updated as more information becomes available.
Should you like more details on the matter, the full Summary of Decision from the Fair Work Commission can be read here.
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