Important new changes regarding the employment of casual workers

WAFIC is advised that WA businesses should be urged to re-examine their workplace contracts after changes to the Fair Work Act came into effect on March 27, redefining the rules around casual work.

In a provision aimed at addressing ‘double dipping’ by employees seeking both casual loading and paid leave entitlements, a casual worker is now defined as “employed with no firm advance commitment to continuing and indefinite work according to an agreed pattern of work”.

However, the High Court recently ruled that in the case where a particular worker was provided with rosters for up to a year in advance was not a contractual promise that amounted to a firm advance commitment to work.  The new definition of casual employment refers to the absence of a firm advance commitment based wholly on the terms of the employment contract.

Casuals have the right to become a permanent (full-time or part-time) employee, known as casual conversion, under the following circumstances:

  • For businesses with 15 or more employees,casuals must be offered a permanent role where they have been employed for 12 months and worked a regular pattern of work during the past six months.
  • For businesses with fewer than 15 employees, casuals can request a permanent role if they meet the 12-month and pattern of hours requirement.

However, this requirement is subject to an exemption based on reasonable grounds.  For medium and large businesses, a six-month transitional period applies. Small businesses must also provide new and existing staff with a copy of the Fair Work Ombudsman Information Statement.

In summary, what all this means is that businesses should ensure that their casual employment contracts are up to date and reflect the new amendments to the Act, including the ability of casual employees to convert to permanent employment.  In addition, businesses should ensure that their casual employment contracts reflect how the employment relationship will operate in practice.  Taking such steps will significantly mitigate the risk that a casual employee will later bring claims against the business.

You can find a more detailed analysis of the changes here. This has been freely provided by Matthew Morgan from Morgan Alteruthemeyer Legal Group, a law firm based in Fremantle.

Obviously WAFIC cannot directly offer any legal interpretations or determine whether there are possibly any technical errors or omissions in this attachment, so if you wish to secure proper tailored advice on this matter with regard to your business then please make contact with your lawyer, or even Matthew Morgan on 9430 6117 or matthew@ma.legal