A new clause related to the rights of casual workers has been inserted into the majority of modern awards, effective from 1 October 2018. This clause was a result of a 2017 decision of the Fair Work Commission as part of its four-yearly review of modern awards. The new clause – the casual conversion clause – allows for certain casual workers to request that their employer convert their casual employment to permanent employment. In this article, Snedden Hall & Gallop Associate, Caitlin Meers, outlines the key issues associated with casual conversion.

I’m a casual employee – what does this mean for me?

As a casual employee, you may have the right to request conversion to part-time or full-time permanent employment, based on your current number of hours and work patterns. However, not all casual employees are eligible for this conversion. You must have been employed for at least 12 months and have had a regular work pattern over that time.
If you’d like to request a conversion, you must do so in writing.

I employ casual workers – what do I need to do?

As an employer of casual workers, you must provide your employees with a copy of the relevant clause by 1 January 2019. However, for those employees engaged after 1 October 2018, you must provide the clause within the first 12 months of their employment.

How do I know which awards the clause applies to?

The conversion clause was inserted into over 80 modern awards. Another 30 awards already had casual conversion clauses and so this new clause didn’t need to be inserted.
The Fair Work Commission lists all awards on its website. Employers need to check their relevant award to see if the new clause has been inserted. If the ‘Right to request casual conversion’ clause has been inserted, you must provide this clause to your casual staff to ensure you are meeting your obligations under the award and to gain a full understanding of the changes.
You should keep a record of how and when you notified each employee of the conversion clause. This is useful evidence that you’re complying with your obligations.

Can I refuse a conversion request?

If you receive a conversion request from one of your casual employees, you must give it serious consideration. However, you can refuse a conversion request on reasonable business grounds. Employers may refuse conversion if:

  • The employee has irregular hours that would not allow for permanency to occur without significant change to the employee’s roster
  • The employer has reasonable grounds to believe the casual employee’s position will not exist in the next 12 months
  • The employer has reasonable grounds to believe that operational requirements will result in a significant alteration and decrease to the casual employee’s hours in the next 12 months

If you do refuse a conversion request, you must respond to the employee, in writing, within 21 days. In your response you must outline why you are refusing their request.

How can Snedden Hall & Gallop Lawyers assist?

Our Employment Law team can assist you with any award compliance issues or questions you may have. Please contact us on 02 6285 8000 or by email.