Casual employment plays a significant role in any business, as it provides flexible options for workplaces and employees. New amendments to the Fair Work Act 2009 which came into effect on 27 March 2021 have changed the rules surrounding casual employment. Businesses should be aware of these changes to ensure that they are operating in compliance with the complex system of Australian employment law. This article will explain what has changed in casual employment law in Australia, and the new responsibilities of employers.
1. What is a ‘casual employee’?
The new amendments to employment law redefine the concept of a ‘casual employee’. A casual employee is now defined as a person who accepts an employment offer knowing that there is no firm advance commitment to ongoing work or an agreed pattern of work. Businesses should review their employment contracts to ensure that they comply with the new definition of casual employee.
The new changes to employment law also provide that a casual employee will stay casual unless they become a permanent employee or cease employment. This stops long term casuals from claiming that they have become permanent over a period of time and are therefore entitled to permanent employee benefits such as sick or annual leave.
2. Requirement to give a Causal Employment Information Statement
Under new changes to casual employment law, employers must give a Casual Employment Information Statement (CEIS) to each new casual employee they hire. The CEIS can be downloaded online, and provided in person, by mail or by email to the casual employee.
New casual employees must be given the CEIS before or as soon as possible after starting their new job. Existing casual employees must also be given a copy of the CEIS as soon as possible, as the amendments have already come into effect.
3. Requirement to consider permanent employment
Employers must consider permanent employment pathways for casual workers under new changes to Australian employment law. With the exception of small businesses, if a casual worker has been employed for over 12 months and has worked a regular pattern of hours in the last 6 months, their employer must:
- Provide a written offer to convert the casual employee to a permanent employee on a part-time or full-time basis, OR
- Provide the casual employee with written notice on why they have not converted the employee to a permanent position
If the employer does not take action within 21 days of the employee reaching 12 months of employment, the employee may request conversion to a permanent position themselves. The employer can only reject a conversion request if they have reasonable grounds to do so.
- Casual employees will stay casual employees unless they are converted to permanent employees or cease employment
- Employers must give all their casual employees a Causal Employment Information Statement
- Employers must provide opportunity for casual employees to convert to permanent employees if they have been employed for over 12 months and have worked a regular pattern of hours over the last 6 months
- Businesses should review their casual employment contracts to ensure that they comply with the new definition of casual employee
- Business should ensure that they have the correct procedures in place to offer permanent positions to casual employees when the 12-month employment mark takes place