On 27 March 2021 the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) (the Act) introduced new permanent employee benefits for existing casual employees, defining the transition as ‘casual conversion’.
The Act, amongst other things, provided employers six (6) months to adhere to the introduced amendments, which are due to come in to effect next week, on Monday 27 September 2021.
From 28 September 2021, employers are legally obliged to offer casual conversion to casual employees who qualify.
What is casual conversion?
Subject to eligibility, casual conversion provides casual employees permanent employee benefits, where casual employees are entitled to convert from casual employment to part-time or full-time employment.
What are my obligations as an employer regarding casual conversion?
All employers who employ casual workers should familiarise themselves with these new laws, and ensure they undertake their assessments by Monday, 27 September 2021.
Along with making the assessment, employers must provide their casual employees with a copy of the federal government’s Casual Employment Information Statement.
If your business employs fewer than 15 people, then you do not have to offer casual conversion, but casuals may make the request should certain requirements be met. Casual employees do not have to wait until 28 September 2021 to make this request.
As an employer, you must offer casual conversion if:
a) You’ve employed the worker for more than 12 months;
b) The employee has worked a regular pattern of hours for 6 months; and
c) The regular hours could be continued with the employer becoming a permanent employee without significant changes.
When don’t you have to offer casual conversion?
a) You have reasonable grounds to not provide the casual conversion; and
b) The casual employer is not eligible for casual conversion.
The above is subject to relevant awards and employment contracts, which may outline different casual conversion eligibilities.
As a Casual Employee, can I apply?
From 28 September 2021, you can make a request to your employer to become a permanent employee if:
a) You’ve been employed for at least 12 months;
b) You’ve worked a regular pattern of hours in the last 6 months on an ongoing basis;
c) You haven’t refused a previous offer to become permanent in the last 6 months;
d) Your employer hasn’t told you in the last 6 months you won’t be offered casual conversion on reasonable grounds; and
e) Your employer hasn’t already refused a request made on reasonable grounds in the last 6 months.
These requests must be made in writing and can only be made 21 days after the annual date of working for the employer for 1 year. The employer has 21 days from receipt of your request to respond, and they may only refuse the request after having discussions with you and providing you reasonable grounds as to why they refuse.
Another request may be made 6 months after the refusal, provided the above requirements are met.
What are the consequences of not offering casual conversion?
Employers may be met with various consequences should they not meet their requirements outlined in the Act.
These include, but are not limited to the following:
a) Their casual employees applying to the Fair Work Commission enforcing their rights to permanent employment benefits;
b) Leads to a contravention of the Act or applicable awards, which may result in significant fines, breaches, and available damages; and
c) Introduce general protection claims to employees who have casual conversions rights under the Act.
Contact Salerno Law
Whether you are the employer or employee, Salerno Law can provide professional advice on all aspects of workplace law and casual conversion. Contact our expert lawyers if you have any queries or concerns regarding compliance with the Act.
By Tyrone Boucher
DISCLAIMER: This article is only meant to give you general information and should not be relied on as legal advice. Speak to one of our lawyers for more information.
Salerno Law is managed by Emma Salerno, Managing Partner and CEO, who has a wealth of experience from operating her own businesses across Australia as well as a range of in-house and commercial experience both in Australia and overseas.