FWO Changes to Casual Employment

In late March, the Fair Work Act 2009 was amended to change workplace rights and obligations for casual employees.  

The changes apply from Saturday, 27 March 2021.

The amendments introduce a Casual Employment Information Statement, a definition of casual employment, and a pathway for casual employees to move to a permanent part-time or full-time position.

From now on, employers must give every new casual employee the information statement when they start the job.

Small business employers with fewer than 15 employees must also provide existing casual workers with the information statement as soon as possible.

New Definition of a Casual Employee

A person is a casual employee if they accept a job offer from an employer, knowing there is no firm advance commitment to ongoing work with an agreed pattern of work.

This aspect of a 'regular pattern of work’ has always been one of the factors used in assessing whether an employee is a casual or a permanent worker. This makes the definition of a casual worker much clearer.

Once a worker agrees to a casual position, this will continue until they either become permanent through conversion or are offered permanent employment by the employer or cease employment.

Converting to Permanent Employment for Large Employers (15 or more employees)

A large employer must offer permanent employment if the casual worker has worked for at least 12 months, if there has been a regular pattern of work for the last 6 months and if the regular hours could continue as a permanent employee without significant changes.

Employers need to offer casual conversion to eligible employees in writing before 27 September 2021 or within 21 days of the 12-month anniversary of starting work, whichever is later.

These conversion rules also apply to existing casual workers at 27 March 2021. Employers need to assess whether workers are eligible and it is reasonable to offer a permanent position or not. 

Converting to Permanent Employment for Small Employers (fewer than 15 employees)

Employees of small employers have the right to request permanent employment if they meet the requirements (i.e. they have been employed for at least 12 months, there is a pattern of work, and other eligibility factors).
Small employers do not have the same obligation to offer a permanent position; however, if an employee requests it, the employer must consider it and reply in writing within 21 days.

Accounting Technician Next Steps 

  • Check with your employer clients that they know about the reforms to casual employment.
  • Provide the Casual Employment Information Statement to the employer and/or workers (depending on your engagement with the client and your role concerning payroll). Ensure there is a system for providing this statement along with the Fair Work Information Statement at the start of employment.
  • If you are engaged to provide advice about payroll matters, ensure the employer understands the new definition of a casual employee and the new rules about casual conversion.
  • Recommend employers put in place a system for reviewing casual workers’ eligibility for a permanent position and offering or denying a permanent position.
  • Let employers know they need to notify casual employees of the new reforms.
  • Recommend employers review their existing employment agreements with casual workers to address the new definition of casual work. Agreements should be updated to state that casual loading is paid instead of permanent entitlements.
  • Recommend they get advice from an employment law or HR specialist such as AB Phillips if needed.
FWO – Casual Employment Information Statement
FWO – Changes to casual employment – industrial relations reform