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Casual employment just got a whole lot more expensive – does your organisation know how to mitigate this risk?

By Kristin Ramsey16 Jan 2019

If so, it is essential that you are up to date with changes in relation to casual conversion rights and the risks associated with long term engagement of casuals who work regular hours.

As a result of recent changes to most modern awards, many casual employees who work on a regular basis for a period of 12 months now have a right to request to convert their employment to full or part-time.

There are rules in the relevant awards about your obligations as an employer to notify employees of this right and rules about how requests to convert must be dealt with. Failure to comply with these obligations is a breach of the Fair Work Act and can result in disputes, prosecution and heavy fines.

In addition, over the past 12 months, there has been an increase in litigation by casual employees claiming that they are really full or part-time employees and therefore have not been paid their proper entitlements. There have already been examples of casuals successfully bringing these claims and there are currently a number of class actions on foot (seeking compensation of over $50 million) regarding similar issues.

We provided information on these issues in an update in November last year.

Since that update, legislation has been passed which helps employers limit their liability in circumstances where a casual employee is found to have the entitlements of a full or part-time employee. To take advantage of this protection particular steps need to be taken (including ensuring that contracts cover off particular matters).

It is essential that organisations properly understand their new obligations towards casual employees and also that proactive steps are taken to mitigate the risks associated with casuals being found to be full or part time employees.

To assist organisations in this respect we are offering a casual risk management package. The package includes:

  • Review of your organisation’s casual engagement process and recommendations in light of same
  • Advice on the risks associated with long term casual employment and the proactive steps that need to be taken to reduce those risks
  • A casual conversion policy and supporting template documents
  • A reference guide for HR / Managers (covering the casual conversion process and recommended proactive steps)
  • Review and update of your organisation’s template casual employment contract to meet award casual conversion obligations and mitigate risks

Please contact Kristin Ramsey – Employment & Workplace Relations Practice Group Leader for further information and pricing.