Important Changes to Casual Employment Laws – Steps for your Business
On 27 March 2021, three significant changes were made to the 2009 Fair Work Act relating to the rights and obligations of casual employees. These changes involve a new casual employment information statement, a new definition of a casual employee and a new entitlement of casual employees known as ‘casual conversion’. These changes are a result of a recent case, which resulted in significant confusion around casuals and rights to additional payments.
We recommend all businesses seek legal advice regarding these changes and in the meantime we have outlined some practical steps based on The Fair Work website to assist employers to implement the new rules: https://www.fairwork.gov.au/about-us/news-and-media-releases/website-news/reforms
Step 1 – Determine if you are a Small Business under the Fair Work Act.
The steps required differ if you are a Small Business. Under the Fair Work Act, you are a Small Business if you have less than 15 employees at a particular time. https://www.fairwork.gov.au/Dictionary.aspx?TermID=2157
Step 2 – Identify the casual employees on your payroll.
According to the new definition of casual employment, an employee is classified as casual if:
• An employer makes an offer of employment with no firm advance commitment to ongoing work.
• The person accepts this offer with knowledge of the agreement.
• The person is employed by the employer.
A casual employee will continue to be casual until they become a permanent employee or stop being employed by the employer.
Step 3 – Provide your employees with a Casual Employment Information statement (CEIS):
For existing employees: Small business employers are required to provide their existing casual employees with a copy of this statement as soon as possible after March 27 2021. All other employers must provide their existing casual employees with a copy of this statement as soon as possible after September 27 2021.
For new employees: employers must provide these new workers with a copy of the casual employment statement preferably before they start their job or as soon as possible after they start working. You can read more about this statement by accessing the link below.
Step 4 – Read and understand the casual conversion rules for existing casuals and take action by 27 September 2021 or within 21 days of a request.
The new rules give casual employees a pathway to become a permanent full-time or part-time employee.
For a casual employee to be eligible for this opportunity, they must have worked for their employer for at least 12 months and for at least 6 of these months, have worked a regular pattern of hours. The employee must also be able to continue working this pattern of hours as a permanent employee.
The amendment also provides employers with a 6-month transition period (ending 27 September 2021) in which employers can assess the eligibility of their casual employees before they are required to make offers.
However, various exceptions apply. Employers of small businesses are not required to make an offer to eligible casual employees for casual conversion. Additionally, if an employer has ‘reasonable grounds’ not to make this offer, they are also not required to do so.
Eligible casual employees also have the right to request to convert to full-time or part-time employment if they are either an employee of a small business or if their employer has decided not to make an offer for casual conversion. These requests must be made in writing and your employer will have 21 days to respond.
Step 5 – Update your systems to add a reminder 12 months after a casual employee starts to determine if you are required to convert them to a permanent position.
These new rules will have an ongoing impact and casual employees will need to be assessed to determine if there is a conversion to permanent employment required and we recommend all businesses put in place a reminder to assess these conversions.
If you need assistance understanding or actioning these changes, do not hesitate to call us on 07 3844 5555 to discuss with a Macro team member today and we can refer you to the relevant person to obtain legal advice about this matter.