The Fair Work Commission has released a draft model casual conversion clause as part of its four yearly modern award review process. The draft clause is to be included in 85 modern awards that do not currently include casual conversion clauses and if approved in its current form, will allow regular casual employees to request that their employment be converted to part time or full time employment.

Key features of the draft clause include:

  • A regular casual employee is a casual employee who has worked a pattern of hours on an ongoing basis over at least 12 months, such that they could continue to work as a full-time or part-time employee without significant adjustment to their hours;
  • A regular casual employee who has worked an average of 38 or more hours per week may request to have their employment converted to full-time employment, and a regular casual employee who has worked less hours may request to have their employment converted to part-time employment;
  • The request must be made in writing;
  • The employer may agree to the request or refuse the request on reasonable grounds after consultation with the employee. Reasonable grounds for refusal will include where:
  • the change would require a significant adjustment to the casual employee’s hours of work in order for the employee to be engaged on a full or part time basis under the award;
  • it is known or reasonably foreseeable that the employee’s position will cease to exist within the next 12 months;
  • it is known or reasonably foreseeable that the employee’s hours of work will be significantly reduced in the next 12 months; or
  • it is known or reasonably foreseeable that there will be a significant change in the employee’s days and/or times of work over the next 12 months which cannot be accommodated within the days and/or hours during which the employee is available to work.
  • Any refusal must be provided to the employee within 21 days of the request being made and must include the reasons for the refusal;
  • If the employee does not accept the employer’s refusal, either party can refer the matter to the Fair Work Commission to be dealt with under the award dispute resolution procedures;
  • If the conversion to permanent employment is approved, the arrangement must be recorded in writing. Further, the employee may only revert to casual employment with the written agreement of the employer;
  • A casual employee must not be engaged and/or re-engaged, or have their hours reduced or varied, in order to avoid any right or obligation under the casual conversion clause;
  • A regular casual employee is not obliged to convert to full or part time employment and an employer cannot require an employee to convert to full or part time employment;
  • An employer is not obliged to increase the regular casual employee hours; and
  • An employer must provide all casual employees with a copy of the relevant casual conversion clause within 12 months of the employee’s first engagement to perform work.

The Fair Work Commission has invited interested parties to make further submissions on the proposed casual conversion clause over the coming months. Employers should watch this space.