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Australia Amends Casual Employment Law Under Fair Work Act

By: Jyme Mariani, Esq. | 01 Nov 2021

By 27 September 2021, Australian employers (other than small businesses) needed to assess whether their existing casual employees had to be offered permanent employment. These changes were part of industrial relation reforms due to amendments to the Fair Work Act 2009. Although the changes went into effect on 27 March 2021, employers were given six months to adjust.

New Definition of Casual Employee
The amendments clarified that a "person is a casual employee if they accept an offer for a job from an employer knowing that there is no firm advance commitment to ongoing work with an agreed pattern of work." For example, if an employee is employed as casual, the roster can change each week to suit the employer's needs, and the employee can refuse or swap shifts.

Once a worker is employed on a casual basis, the worker continues to be a casual employee until either: they become a permanent employee through casual conversion or being offered and accepting an offer of full-time or part-time employment, or they stop being employed by the employer.

Information Statement Required
All employers now need to give every new casual employee a Casual Employment Information Statement (CEIS) before, or as soon as possible after, employees start the new job. Small business employers (those with fewer than 15 employees at a particular time) needed to give their existing casual employees a copy of the CEIS as soon as possible after 27 March 2021. Other employers had until 27 September 2021.

Employers can give casual employees the CEIS: in person, by mail, by email, by emailing a link to the Fair Work website, by emailing a link to a copy of the CEIS on the employer's intranet, by fax, or by another method.

Employers are not required to give casual employees the CEIS more than once in any 12-month period (for example, if an employer employs a casual employee temporarily at different stages in a 12-month period, they only need to the CEIS once).

The CEIS has information about:

  • the definition of a casual employee
  • when an employer has to offer casual conversion
  • when an employer does not have to offer casual conversion
  • when a casual employee can request casual conversion
  • casual conversion entitlements of casual employees employed by small business employers
  • the role of the Fair Work Commission to deal with disputes about casual conversion
Becoming a Permanent Employee
The National Employment Standards now include an entitlement for casual employees to become full-time or part-time (permanent) in some circumstances through "casual conversion." Casual employees can become permanent by their employer offering casual conversion or by making a request to their employer for casual conversion. Eligibility requirements and exceptions apply. Small business employers do not need to offer casual conversion to casual employees. Different rules also apply for offers of casual conversion to existing casuals employed immediately before 27 March 2021 who are not employed by a small business.

Jyme Mariani, Esq., is Senior Manager of Payroll Information Resources for the American Payroll Association.