The coronavirus pandemic has catalysed major, legislative changes to various sectors in the workforce. In particular, the federal parliament has introduced a reform to the industrial relations laws with regard to casual employment. Essentially, the rationale behind these changes is to provide 2.6 million Australians with greater job security.
So what are the changes?
Definition of Casual Work
Firstly, ‘casual work’ has received, for the first time, a statutory definition in the Fair Work Act. From now, casual employees are defined as:
- having no guaranteed hours of work
- normally working irregular hours
- not having entitlements to sick or annual leave
- being able to end employment without notice.
In essence, the definition of a casual employee is very much what you would expect it to be. Casuals have no cemented commitment to their employers like part-time or full-time workers.
Changes in Benefits and Pay
The benefits and pay rates of casuals have also undergone a substantial change. Here they are:
- To compensate for the lack of benefits ( paid sick and annual leave), casuals will now receive a higher pay rate than equivalent full-time or part-time employees.
- Casuals will now receive two days of both unpaid carer’s leave and unpaid compassionate leave per occasion.
- In the event of family or domestic violence, casuals will now receive 5 days leave per 12-month period.
- Lastly, casuals are now entitled to unpaid community service leave.
Long Term Casual Employees
Provided you have worked as a casual for a single employer for a prolonged period of time, you are considered a ‘long-term casual employee’. If it is likely that there will be a continued working relationship, a casual employee can:
- request flexible working arrangements
- take parental leave (unpaid).
Becoming a Full-Timer or Part-Timer
Lastly, provided there is an agreement between you and your employer, casuals can change to full-time or part-time at any time. The majority of awards associated have a minimum process in the shift from casual to fixed.
Additionally, employers receiving the Boosting Apprenticeship Commencements wage subsidy cannot convert casuals to a fixed employee, without an employee’s agreement.