The Fair Work Commission has announced updates to casual employment terms in most awards. The updates ensure that all awards are consistent with the 2021 changes to casual employment in the Fair Work Act.

The updates start from the first pay period on or after 27 September 2021.Employers (other than small businesses) need to assess whether their existing casuals are eligible to be offered permanent employment.

An eligible casual employee (except if they are employed by a small business employer) can make a request to convert to permanent employment from 21 days after their 12 month anniversary.

An eligible casual employee who works for a small business employer can make a request at any time on or after their 12 month anniversary.

To be eligible to request casual conversion, a casual employee:

  • needs to have been employed by the employer for at least 12 months
  • needs to have worked a regular pattern of hours on an ongoing basis for at least the last 6 months
  • could continue working these hours as a full-time or part-time employee without significant changes.

An employee isn’t eligible to make a request if, in the last 6 months:

  • they’ve refused an offer from their employer to convert to permanent employment
  • their employer has told them in writing that they won’t be making an offer of casual conversion because there was a reasonable ground not to make the offer
  • their employer has refused another request for casual conversion because there was a reasonable ground to refuse the request.

Casual employees who believe they’re eligible to become a permanent employee can make a request for conversion every 6 months.

If an employer decides to not make an offer, or refuses to accept a request, for a casual employee to convert to permanent on ‘reasonable grounds’, the reasonable grounds they rely on have to be based on facts that are known or reasonably foreseeable.

Reasonable grounds for deciding not to make an offer can include that, in the next 12 months:

  • the employee’s position won’t exist
  • the employee’s hours of work will significantly reduce
  • the employee’s days or times of work will significantly change, and that can’t be accommodated within the employee’s available days or times for work.

Reasonable grounds can also include:

  • making the offer would not comply with a recruitment or selection process required by or under a Commonwealth, State or Territory law
  • the employer would have to make a significant adjustment to the employee’s work hours for them to be employed full-time or part-time.