important changes to casual staff

If you employ casual staff, you need to be aware of recent changes to the Fair Work Act on workplace rights and your obligations to your casual employees.

On Friday 26 March 2021, the Fair Work Act 2009 (FW Act) was amended to change workplace rights and obligations for casual employees. The changes were made by the Fair Work Amendment (Supporting Australia's Jobs and Economic Recovery) Act 2021 (Amendment Act).

These changes came into effect on Saturday 27 March 2021.

Fairwork is still in the process of providing detailed information about the changes to the Act, however we've set out the information we have to hand below. As further pertinent details emerge we will keep you updated.

What's Changing

  • Introduction of a Casual Employment Information Statement (the CEIS) for employees
  • The definition of casual employment
  • Moving from casual employees to full-time or permanent part-time employment.

CEIS

As new casual staff are engaged, you will be required to provide them with a Casual Employment Information Statement before they start their new job, or as soon as possible afterwards.

If you are a small business owner, you will need to provide the statement to casual staff as soon as possible from 27 March 2021.  Other employers need to provide the statement to causal staff promptly from 27 September 2021.

Approved methods for supplying the statement are:

  • In person 
  • By mail
  • By emailing a copy of the CEIS, or providing a link to the CEIS on the Fairwork's website if your employee agrees.

Casual Employee Definition

How is it changing?

Under the new Fair Work Act casual employee definition, a person is a casual employee if they accept a job offer from an employer knowing that there is no firm advance commitment to ongoing work with an agreed pattern of work. 

Once employed as a casual, an employee will continue to be a casual employee until they either:

  • become a permanent employee through:
    • casual conversion, or 
    • are offered and accept the offer of full-time or part-time employment, or 
  • stop being employed by the employer.

How does this impact existing casual employees?

Casuals who were employed immediately before 27 March 2021 and whose initial employment offer meets the new definition continue to be casual employees under the Fair Work Act.

Fair Work are expected to provide detailed information will be available soon.

Transitioning to a permanent employee

The Amendment Act adds a new entitlement to the National Employment Standards (NES) giving casual employees a pathway to become a full-time or part-time (permanent) employee. This is also known as 'casual conversion'.

An employer (other than a small business employer) has to offer their casual employee to convert to full-time or part-time (permanent) when the employee:

  • has worked for their employer for 12 months
  • has worked a regular pattern of hours for at least the last 6 of those months on an ongoing basis 
  • could continue working those hours as a permanent employee without significant changes.

Some exceptions apply, including:

  • small business employers
  • if an employer has 'reasonable grounds' not to make an offer to a casual employee for casual conversion.

If you are unsure as to whether you need to transition casual employees to a permanent status or not, contact your Aspen Corporate advisor today for support and assistance. 

Making and responding to offers and requests

There are rules for how employers and employees need to make and respond to offers. There are also rules for offering casual conversion to existing casual employees.

Casual employees have a right to request to convert to full-time or part-time (permanent) employment in some circumstances. This applies:

  • for casual employees working for a small business – at any time if they meet the requirements
  • for other casual employees – after their employer has decided not to make an offer for casual conversion.

More detailed guidance and information will be available soon, including help with fixing workplace problems.  If you have any questions, we advise contacting your Aspen Corporate advisor today.


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