In March this year, the Fair Work Amendment (Supporting Australia's Jobs and Economic Recovery) Act 2021 ('the Act') came into effect. Along with providing a statutory definition of casual employment, it introduced casual conversion provisions.
What is casual conversion?
Under the Act, casual employees who have worked for an employer (with 15 or more employees) for at least 12 months, and regular hours for at least the last 6 months, must be given the opportunity to convert to a permanent employee, provided that doing so would not require significant adjustment.
Are there any exceptions?
An employer may have reasonable grounds not to offer conversion if:
employment will cease within 12 months of the refusal to offer casual conversion;
hours of work will be significantly reduced in the 12 month period;
there will be significant change(s) in the time in the following 12 month period which can not be accommodated within the employee's availability; OR
making the offer for conversion would breach a recruitment process required under a Commonwealth or State law.
There is a transition period
Employers have a grace period until 27th September 2021. This time should be used by employer to assess whether or not they have employees who fall within the provisions. If they do, the employer should;
make an offer for casual conversion unless there are reasonable grounds to not;
if a casual conversion offer will not be made, inform the employee, including the reasons why.
With the grace period expiring next month, if they have not done so already, employers should assess their workforce now to:
identify casual employees who may be affected;
determine if there are any reasonable grounds that would preclude casual conversion;
plan an effective communication strategy;
draft casual conversion offer letters.