Did you know that some casual employees are entitled to request their employment be converted to permanent employment? Employers are required to notify casual employees of their right to do so – have you done so? There are penalties of up to $63,000 per offence for failure to do this. Read on to find out about these obligations.
1. Your obligations as an employer
You must provide all casual employees with a copy of the provisions of the "model casual conversion clause" within the first 12 months of the employee's first engagement to perform work. In respect of casual employees already employed as at 1 October 2018, you were required to have provided such employees with a copy of the model casual conversion clause by 1 January 2019.
2. Where can I find the model conversion clause?
The model conversion clause can be found in the relevant modern award. The key language can be found here.
3. Which employees have a right to request casual conversion?
Any person engaged by you as a "regular casual employee" may request that their employment be converted to full-time or part-time employment.
A "regular casual employee" is a casual employee who has in the previous 6 or 12 months (the timing depends on the modern award that applies) worked a pattern of hours on an ongoing basis which, without significant adjustment, the employee could continue to perform as a full-time employee or part-time employee.
In Mr Cori Ponce v DJT Staff Management Services Pty Ltd T/A Daly's Traffic  FWA 2078, the Court determined that where the employee worked a mix of day shift and night shift and there was no regular hours or days the employee was still a regular casual employee. In Grey v Ardmona Foods – T0994  AIRC 338, an employee who only worked 2-3 months per year for a number of years was deemed to be a regular casual employee.
4. Can you refuse conversion?
You have 21 days to respond, in writing, to an employee's request to convert their employment to full-time or part-time. You can only refuse conversion upon reasonable grounds, after consultation with the relevant employee.
"Reasonable grounds" include if the casual employee is not a regular casual employee, the employee's job is likely to cease within the next 12 months or the hours are likely to be significantly reduced.
5. What to do next.
- If you have casual employees and have not notified them yet, do so ASAP.
- Review and update your employment contracts to include the notice.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.