On 13 February 2019, the Australian Government introduced the Fair Work Amendment (Right to Request Casual Conversion) Bill 2019 into Parliament. If passed by Parliament, the provisions in the Bill would amend the National Employment Standards in the Fair Work Act to ensure that casual employees with 12 months of regular service have the right to request conversion to full-time or part-time employment.
Because the proposed amendments would apply as terms of the NES, it means that they would apply to all employees, including those that are award-free or enterprise agreement-free.
The Bill proposes that the new NES conversion rights would not disturb the casual conversion provisions in modern awards, and would apply to enterprise agreement-covered employees whose enterprise agreement does not have a casual conversion term that is:
- the same or substantially the same as the casual conversion term included in the relevant modern award; or
- more beneficial on an overall basis than the casual conversion term included in the relevant modern award.
Under the Bill employers would retain the right to reasonably refuse a casual employee’s conversion request.
The Bill defines the class of employees who are entitled to make a request for conversion from casual employment to full-time or part-time employment but does not define casual employment for other purposes under the Act. It also clarifies that for an employee who converts from casual employment to full-time or part-time employment, periods of casual employment do not count for the purposes of calculating entitlements to annual leave, personal/carer’s leave, redundancy pay and notice of termination. However, periods of casual employment count for the purposes of calculating service to qualify for the right to request flexible work arrangements and to take unpaid parental leave.
If you would like more information about the proposed legislation, please contact Ai Group’s Workplace Advice Service on 1300 55 66 77.
Alternatively, if you would like advice about structuring your employment arrangements, please contact your local employment, workplace and industrial lawyer in Sydney, Newcastle, Wollongong, Adelaide, Melbourne or Brisbane or email Ai Group Workplace Lawyers at firstname.lastname@example.org.