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Changes for casual employees

Businesses that engage employees on a casual basis need to be aware of a decision the Fair Work Commission made last year that is creating a shift in the casual employment landscape.

From 1 October 2018, many additional Modern Awards had a clause inserted that allows casual employees the right to request to convert to full-time or part-time employment.

Why is this happening?
In July 2017 the Fair Work Commission first put into play the notion to support and protect employees from the detriments of casual work, like not being offered training opportunities and financial challenges causals face such as such as difficulty securing loans. There are however some benefits for employers too.

It might seem like yet another piece of paperwork employers have to do, more hoops to jump through, but, the general idea behind these changes, also brings some clarity for employers.

If you read my article in BMO’s “every step” magazine (link), you’ll be aware that there have been some rulings where casual employees are being granted entitlements because they are deemed to be carrying out the work as though they are a part-time or full-time employee. So instead of this grey area, Fair Work is telling employers they have to give their employees the information so that every employee has an opportunity to clarify, and confirm in writing, the basis of their engagement.

It should, in theory, prevent causal employees from double dipping ie. Getting a higher hourly rate but then also being awarded entitlements down the track.

In line with this clause being inserted into awards that previously did not have them, there is a requirement for an employer to provide new and existing employees a copy of the Award Casual Conversion Clause. The employee can then check it all out and if they decide they’d like to request to be converted to part-time or full-time. If they wish to, then they must request as such in writing. The employer can then accept or refuse the request. The Awards provide a raft of considerations as to why the employer may or may not choose to accept the request.

So if you’re an employer – what do you have to do?
As an employer, under certain awards, you are required to provide every eligible award-reliant casual employee with copy of the Award Casual Conversion Clause. Many of our local businesses are affected including pastoral workers (ie farming), hairdressers, retailers, insurance, clerical, long distance transport, the fitness industry and more. Actually, there are about 1.5 million casual employees in Australia this applies to, so it’s worth checking if it’s included in your award. More info here>>

What’s the timing?
For any eligible award-reliant casual employees engaged after 1 October 2018 this is to be done within their first 12 months of employment, for employees engaged before that date there was a requirement for this information to be provided by 1 January 2019.

In the busy-ness of Christmas and end of year, it’s possible that many employers have missed this deadline. If you haven’t done it yet, best get to it!

If you’ve checked your award and if the decision does apply to your casual employees, and you have not provided notification yet, and you don’t know what to do…..please contact me and we can provide you with further information. If you’ve had an employee provide a written request, you can also talk with us about what to consider before you accept or refuse the request. If you have any further queries about this decision and how it affects your business please give me a call.


This article is general in nature. Before making any financial or investment decisions, we recommend you consult your accountant or HR adviser to take into account your particular financial objectives, financial situation, business and individual needs. BMO Accountants does not accept any liability for any errors or omissions of information supplied in this article.

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Dave Adams

About the author

Growing up in Guyra, New South Wales, Dave began his working career as a 15 year old cotton chipping and picking during school holidays in Garah.  Following his schooling and some time as a labourer, Dave joined the Army and upon leaving began a career in Human Resources. With over a decade of experience, Dave enjoys identifying and developing employees so that they  can achieve their best READ MORE

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