Businesses rely upon casual employees to help meet staffing needs, giving ultimate flexibility as employees fall ill or go on leave. Casual employees often seek a consistency within hours, however in accordance with changing casual employment definitions, employers needs to be cautious, reviewing casual employee contracts and regularity of hours to ensure that they are still classified as casual.
The current definition of a casual employee is an employee whom; has no assured work hours, works irregular shifts without entitlements of sick or annual leave, receives unpaid entitlements to compassionate, carers and parental leave, and (unless stated within an agreement or award) can terminate employment with no or limited notice.
On March 27 2021, changes were made to the Fair Work Act 2009 in reference to the casual employee definition and employee and employer entitlements. These changes directly impact employer responsibility towards casual employees and employee rights. These changes include:
- Definition of Casual employment:
- A new definition was defined, stating that an employee is a casual if they accept work that has no assured hours or commitment to ongoing regularity or pattern of such.
- Casual employment can now be defined based on the engagement at the commencement of employment, with the employment type being determined by what is agreed upon, regardless of hours or pattern of work. Therefore, the focus is upon the casual employment status, which should be clearly expressed within the position description, letter of offer and employment contracts/ award classification.
- Casual Conversion: The process of offering an existing employee the opportunity to move from casual to permanent part time employment. This can only be done when; an employee has worked for an employer 12 months, has worked regular and patterned hours between 6 to 12 months of this employment duration, and if the employee could continue to work the existing patterned hours as a permanent part time employee with minimal disruption or changes. The employer can withhold from offering casual conversion if they have ‘reasonable business grounds’ that are known or foreseeable.
*An employer with 15 or less employees does not have to offer casual conversion, however employees have the right to request such if the specified conditions are met.
- Casual Employment Information Statement: Employers are now required to give all onboarding casuals a copy of the ‘Casual Employment Information Statement’ and to provide existing casuals with such. This document informs casual employees of their rights surrounding casual conversion, specifically employee and employer rights and responsibilities.
- Entitlements and Casual Loading: Should a casual employee take an employer to court asking to be back paid or compensated for the time they believe to have been eligible to permanent part time entitlements, such as sick and annual leave, employers can now ask for this amount owing to be offset by the deduction of the ‘hourly casual loading’ paid within this period.
It is necessary for all employers who employ casuals to review the engagement of their casual employees, checking the initial employment agreement and award for specifications of casual employment classification and casual loadings, and redrafting or offering casual conversion if required.
Assurance HR Management can assist you within the review of employee status, further conducting conversions and redrafting of employment agreements as required. Call us today on 1800 577 515 and speak with us about your casual employee or casual conversion queries.