Casual employment arrangements due for a checkup

  • The FWC review of modern awards will have implications for employers of casual staff.
  • A regular casual employee could request conversion to full-time employment if they have met certain criteria.
  • Affected employers will need to adapt their procedures to ensure compliance with the relevant modern awards when the FWC’s decision is finalised.

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If you are an employer, the recent decision of the Fair Work Commission (FWC) is likely to affect the way that you manage your staff.

The FWC’s decision — 4 yearly review of modern awards — Casual employment and part-time employment [2017] FWCFC 3541 — will affect 85 modern awards and, under certain conditions, allow casual employees covered by those awards to request permanent employment after 12 months.

What is the ‘casual conversion clause’?

In its decision, the FWC provides a model casual conversion clause to be included in each relevant modern award that does not already contain such a clause. The model clause sets out the criteria for assessing whether a casual employee is entitled to have their role converted to part-time or full-time.

According to the FWC, a ‘regular casual employee’ will be entitled to request a conversion if they have ‘… over a calendar year period of at least 12 months worked a pattern of hours which, without significant adjustment, the employee could continue to perform as a full-time employee or part-time employee [under the provisions of the relevant award]’.

Put another way: a regular casual employee could request conversion to full-time employment if they have worked on average 38 hours or more per week in the past 12 months or to part-time employment if they have worked on average less than 38 hours per week in that same period.

Why the change?

The FWC is responsible for ensuring that the modern awards, together with the National Employment Standards (NES), provide a sufficient safety net of terms and conditions of employment in Australia. In the FWC’s view, the insertion of a casual conversion clause into 85 modern awards is consistent with this overarching objective because it will serve to mitigate some of the negative attributes of casual employment, including:

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