Are you a long-term casual employee? Do you know you probably have the right to request that your employment be converted to a part-time or full-time basis?
In July 2017, the Full Bench of the Fair Work Commission (‘the Commission’) ruled that regular casual employees who were employed for more than 12 months and met certain criteria had the right to request that their employment be converted to full-time or part-time employment.
The Commission ordered that the new casual conversion clause be inserted into 85 modern awards from 1 October 2018. If you are covered by a modern award, it is likely that the casual conversion clause applies to your employment.
In a nutshell, the casual conversion clause gives ‘regular’ casual employees the right to request to their employer that their employment be converted to part-time or full-time. A regular casual employee is defined as:
“…a casual employee who has in the preceding period of 12 months 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 under the provisions of this award.”
A casual employee’s request for conversion must be in writing and the employer must respond to the request in writing within 21 days. The employer can only refuse the request on ‘reasonable grounds’ and after consulting with the employee.
As stated, an employer can only refuse a casual employee request for conversion on ‘reasonable grounds.’ The casual conversion clause sets out a number of factors that include reasonable grounds for refusal. These include:
- “it would require a significant adjustment to the casual employee’s hours of work in order for the employee to be engaged as a full-time or part-time employee in accordance with the provisions of this award – that is, the casual employee is not truly a regular casual employee;
- “it is known or reasonably foreseeable that the regular casual employee’s position will cease to exist within the next 12 months;
- “it is known or reasonably foreseeable that the hours of work which the regular casual employee is required to perform will be significantly reduced in the next 12 months;
- “it is known or reasonably foreseeable that 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.”
Are you a regular casual employee?
If you think you are a regular casual employee, it may be worth considering whether you should exercise your right to request conversion to full-time or part-time employment if you are covered by a modern award. If you do make a request and your employer refuses your request, you should consider whether your employer has made its refusal to you in writing, within 21 days, and whether your employer has applied the factors that can be considered as reasonable grounds for refusal. If you feel your employer has not complied with its obligations under the casual conversion clause, you should consider speaking to an employment lawyer.