The Fair Work Commission undertakes a review of the Modern Awards every 4 years. During the most recent review the Commission decided that the Modern Awards should contain a provision that allows casual employees to elect to convert to either full-time employment or part-time employment once they have met certain criteria.
It is proposed that a casual conversion clause be included in 85 Modern Awards that do not currently contain such a clause. It is proposed that the clause will contain the following provisions:-
- a qualifying period of 12 calendar months;
- a qualifying criterion that the casual employee has, over the qualifying period, worked a pattern of hours on an ongoing basis which, without significant adjustment, could continue to be performed in accordance with the full-time or part-time employment provisions of the relevant award;
- the employer must provide all casual employees (whether they become eligible for conversion or not) with a copy of the casual conversion clause within the first 12 months after their initial engagement; and
- a conversion may be refused:-
- if it would require a significant adjustment to the casual employee’s hours of work to accommodate them in full-time or part-time employment in accordance with the terms of the applicable modern award; or
- if it is known or reasonably foreseeable that:-
- the casual employee’s position will cease to exist; or
- the employee’s hours of work will significantly change or be reduced;
within the next 12 months; or
- on other reasonable grounds based on facts which are known or reasonably foreseeable.
Further consultation with interested parties will be carried out by 2 August 2017 with respect to the casual conversion clause after which time it is expected that the clause will be inserted into 85 Modern Awards.
If you are an employer, regardless of how many employees you have, you must ensure that you keep up to date with any amendments to the awards that apply to your employees as compliance with the awards is mandatory. A failure to comply with provisions in the awards can lead to prosecution and penalties.
All employers should watch this space carefully for updates in this area and if you have a workforce that employs casual employees you may wish to take steps now to consider how you might manage the potential impacts to your business as a result of these changes to the awards including ensuring that your recruitment strategies take into account the potential for conversion from casual to full-time or part-time.
We will keep you informed on when the changes to the awards come into effect. In the meantime, for any employment law related issues please contact one of our experienced solicitors.