Casual employees

Recent court cases involving casual workers have increased attention on casual worker classification, which means your workers may be more aware of the ability to convert to a permanent position.

The law has not changed; however, these cases are good reminders for employers to be aware of the rules around converting casual employees to permanent positions.

What Makes an Employee Casual?

  • No expectation or commitment about duration of employment.
  • No guaranteed hours of work.
  • Usually works irregular hours.
  • Is not entitled to paid leave.
  • Can usually end employment without notice.

Note that there is such a thing as a long-term casual employee. Long-term casuals may be eligible for flexible working arrangements, parental leave and long service leave, even though they don’t have guaranteed hours of work or expectation of ongoing work.

When Does a Casual Employee Become Permanent?

This is addressed in most modern awards in a casual conversion clause. Employers should check the relevant award provisions to see if there is an obligation to offer a part-time or full-time position, then follow the directions about offering permanent positions.

Example of Casual Conversion Rules

Each award must be checked for details, however there are similar guiding principles.

  • Casual employees are entitled to ask to change to full-time or part-time employment when they have worked a regular pattern of hours over a set period (usually 6 to 12 months) and could reasonably expect to continue to work those hours as a full-time or part-time employee without significant changes.
  • Employers must specifically notify casual employees about this entitlement within 12 months of the casual start date.
  • Casual employees that do not receive notification of this entitlement are still entitled to request a change to full-time or part-time employment.
  • An employer can only refuse the request if there are ‘reasonable grounds’ such as the employee not working regular hours or there are other significant changes to the current work patterns.

There are more provisions and details in each award’s casual conversion clause – employers need to check the applicable award to make sure they comply with the casual conversion requirements.

Visit the Fair Work Ombudsman Casual Employees webpage for more detail.

Talk to us if we can help with payroll management and assessing the classification of your workers.