Casual employment changes – What employers need to watch out for

Published May 30, 2021 (last updated January 25, 2022) -
Casual Changes

It has been more than two months since the Federal Government’s stripped down Industrial Relations bill became law, but small business owners are still confused as to what it means for them.

The bill, which was touted by the Government as a way to support struggling businesses and enhance worker rights, originally contained measures that targeted five key areas of Australia’s complex IR system.

Four of the five measures, award simplification, greenfields agreements, wage theft, and enterprise bargaining were scrapped in the Senate, while only one, measures which deal with casual employment, passed.

“There have been a number of changes to casual employment that have come into effect since the amendments were made to the Fair Work Act,” said Josh Paterson, Business Partner at Employsure, Australia’s largest workplace relations advisor.

“One of the most significant changes is the new legal definition of a casual worker. Now the definition is law, a casual employee will remain a casual until they are either converted to a permanent role or accept an alternative offer of permanent employment. This is a win for employers and will ultimately help them avoid confusion with their employees, and possible future legal cases.”

Other casual provisions that passed include a new legal avenue to help employers avoid instances of ‘double-dipping’, as well as the casual conversion clause, which empowers employers to convert casual workers into permanent employees. This now applies to all National System Employees, not just those covered by a Modern Award.

To help employers with conversion, it is beneficial to have a digital system in place that can monitor employees, so when the time comes to offer a casual a permanent position, they are not left to slip through the cracks. Employsure’s BrightHR digital platform, is an example of how technology can help employers stay on top of their obligations.

Employers looking to convert casual workers to permanent roles should monitor their pattern of hours more carefully to determine whether or not that worker is eligible to be offered conversion to permanency, or to request it.

“It is in the best interest of employers to do this if they wish to minimise the number of workers becoming entitled to, or exercising casual conversion rights.

“Giving employers more of an opportunity to convert casuals to a permanent role will ultimately act as a fix to double-dipping backpay claims, and will help provide additional certainty to both employers and employees on the status of casual employment,” concluded Mr Paterson.

Further enquiries:

Matthew Bridges

[email protected]

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