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From 1 October 2018 be aware of the casual conversion clause in modern awards which may affect your rights and obligations if you have casual employees

On and from 1 October 2018, many modern awards will have a new clause inserted into them. The new clause will affect the rights and obligations of employers who employ people who work on a regular and systematic basis, as casual employees.

The new clause introduces the concept of a “regular casual employee”, being an employee who works “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”.

The other modern awards affected contain a variant of paragraph (j), which essentially relates to record keeping when conversion to permanent employment is agreed.

If a modern award which regulates your employees already contains a casual conversion clause, then these changes will not affect that clause.

A few important points

  1. The new clause does not require you to offer permanent employment to a “regular casual employee”.
  2. The new clause does require you to provide a copy of the new clause to your casual employees employed as at 1 October 2018, by 1 January 2019.
  3. The new clause does require you to provide a copy of the new clause to all of your casual employees employed on or after 1 October 2018, within 12 months of their employment commencing.
  4. The new clause does require the casual employee to put their request for conversion, in writing.
  5. The new clause does require you to respond to such request in writing, and within 21 days of receiving the request.
  6. The new clause does not require you to agree to such request provided you have reasonable grounds for doing so.

Reasonable grounds

“Reasonable grounds” include that:

  1. the conversion would require a significant adjustment to the employee’s hours of work in order for the employee to be engaged as a full-time or part-time employee in compliance with the modern award;
  2. it is known, or reasonably foreseeable, that:
    1. the employee’s position will cease to exist within the next 12 months;
    2. the hours of work which the employee is required to perform will be significantly reduced in the next 12 months; or
    3. there will be a significant change in the days and/or times at which the employee’s hours of work are required to be performed in the next 12 months which cannot be accommodated within the days and/or hours during which the employee is available to work.

What to do now in relation to current employees?

If you employ people on a casual basis, then on 1 October 2018 (or as soon as possible thereafter) familiarise yourself with any relevant modern awards.

If such an award contains a new casual conversion clause, then ensure you provide each of your casual employees covered by the award with a copy of the new clause by 1 January 2019.

If you receive a written request for conversion and are unsure how to respond to same, please do not hesitate to contact us.

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