Legal Insights

Fair Work Commission rules on casual employees

By Michael Nicolazzo

• 17 July 2017 • 1 min read

The Fair Work Commission has ruled that casual employees can ask to be converted to permanent employment after 12 months of working regular, casual hours

The Fair Work Commission has ruled that casual employees will have a right to ask to be converted to permanent employment after 12 months of working regular, casual hours.

The ACTU lead the charge on behalf of employees, claiming that the unrestricted use of casual employment gave rise to widespread unfairness. Unions were seeking the mandatory conversion of employees after 6 months of regular, casual work, and a minimum shift of 4 hours for every casual employee. Business groups opposed the ruling, saying those changes would cripple industries.

The Commission agreed to give workers a right to request full or part-time employment after 12 months, rather than 6. The Commission did not agree with a minimum shift of 4 hours. Employers will be able to refuse the request to convert on reasonable business grounds – with one of those grounds being that the conversion would require a “significant adjustment” to the employee’s hours of work. A model clause dealing the right to request conversion will shortly be set out in modern awards (subject to any required changes).

Will this ruling have the desired impact and address the uncertain work, poor work/life balance and little flexibility currently suffered by long-term casuals? Or does the ruling mean more difficulties for employers – limiting their ability to engage a flexible workforce?

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