A recent decision has been made by the Fair Work Commission (effective 1st October 2018) to include a casual employee conversion clause in 85 Modern Awards. Casuals, covered by those awards, have the right to request for their employer to convert their casual employment to permanent employment, if they have been undertaking a regular and consistent pattern of work for the past 12 months.
Where do I check to see if my Award is affected?
You can check the changes to your Award in the Fair Work Commission’s schedule of determinations.
My Award has been affected, now what do I do?
Firstly, remember that not all casual employees will want permanency. However it is your obligation to inform employees of the changes, and offer them the opportunity to apply for permanency, if they choose. They also have the right to remain on a casual basis – and some people prefer to be employed as a casual for various personal reasons.
It is important that you have a plan in place to manage the changes and to meet your legal obligations. Here are some recommended areas to address when creating your plan:
Management of the changes
It’s important to nominate a person internally that will be responsible for managing the plan, and its progress, as well as drafting any documentation that is required. That does not mean that this person alone is responsible for all aspects of the plan. They would be the ‘plan manager’ and, if possible, have other people in leadership roles to assist in the implementation (depending on the size of business).
Communication to employees
Employers have until 1 January 2019 to provide a copy of the conversion clause to their existing casuals, and 12 months from 1 October to give it to casuals employed after that date.
Businesses will need to decide what their communication strategy will be, and what key messages they want to convey. Some questions to ask yourself:
- Is a letter enough to advise employees?
- Is a more robust communication strategy required?
- Who is responsible for the content of the communication?
- Will I need to implement a formal application process?
It’s recommended that businesses put an application process in place for those casual employees who would like to apply for permanency. How that looks for your business depends on how structured and formal the process needs to be. The more employees you have, the more structured the approach required may be.
- Who will create the application procedure, templates and communication?
- Who will receive applications and review them?
- How will employees be notified of the outcome?
And then there is the analysis and ‘number crunching’ around what your business would look like if a high percentage of your casuals (who are eligible) decide to apply for permanency. Ideally, this should be done as a team, with finance and HR (if you have those in place), looking at different scenarios for your business.
- What does this mean for rostering?
- How will this affect profit margins and the cost of doing business (cost projections)?
- How will this affect the hours of other casuals and permanent employees?
Please remember that these changes can also provide opportunities for your employees, and your business, including a more stable workforce and, potentially, a higher level of engagement of your employees, which positively affects productivity.
To talk about the casuals in your business and how you should be planning for this conversion process, please book a Discovery Session with one of our Employee Experts.