Casual Workers could get the right to permanent employment after 6 months – 3 steps Employers and HR need to take now

There are proposed changes coming that could have a significant impact on the world of casual employment.

The days of casual workers undertaking regular hours may well be numbered – at least to a certain extent. 

What are the proposed changes to casual employment?

Tony Burke, the Employment Minister has provided recent comments to make very particular changes to casual employment. 

The key proposal is the introduction of a right for eligible casual employees to request conversion to permanent employment after six months of continuous service. This means that if a casual worker has been consistently working in the same role, they may be entitled to convert their status from casual to permanent.  The employee can of course refuse to convert.  

However at this stage  this right would only apply to those who meet specific eligibility criteria, including having worked a regular pattern of hours over the six-month period. At this stage the exemptions for employers to refuse the request on reasonable grounds such as significant changes in business circumstances or if it would require an unreasonable adjustment are still in place. 

These proposed changes aim to address concerns around “permanent casuals”, where individuals work long-term in consistent roles but do not receive the benefits and entitlements associated with full-time or part-time positions. By giving them the option to convert after six months, it aims to provide them with increased job security and access to benefits like paid leave and notice periods.

The other major change is a new definition of what is a casual employee – having a look at the phrase “firm advanced commitment” in particular. 

What 3 steps can Employers and HR do now to mitigate liability and risk?

What 3 steps can Employers and HR do now to mitigate liability and risk?

Step 1: Review Employment Contracts

Employers and HR should start by reviewing their employment contracts, specifically those of their casual workers. It is crucial to ensure that the contracts accurately reflect the nature of the employment relationship. Ensure that terms such as hours worked, job responsibilities, and payment arrangements are clearly defined. By clarifying these details upfront, employers can reduce the risk of disputes arising later on.

Step 2: Implement Record-Keeping Systems

To protect themselves from potential liabilities associated with casual employment, employers need to establish robust record-keeping systems. This means accurately recording all hours worked by casual employees, including start times, finish times, and any breaks taken. Having detailed records will help demonstrate compliance with relevant legislation in case of any legal challenges or claims for permanent employment.

Step 3: Provide Training on Rights and Responsibilities

Educating both managers and casual employees about their rights and responsibilities is essential in mitigating risks. Managers should be trained on how to properly classify workers based on their roles and duties within the organisation.  An overall workforce review may be required to truly understand the risk for casual conversion after 6 months. 

Same Job Same Pay

The big risk for Employers and HR are the employees and positions which are “regular casuals” and/or long term on a casual basis. 

For some employees, giving up penalty rates for leave is not something they are interested in and for others this will be snatched at.

The concept of Same Job Same Pay aims to address the issue of wage disparity between casual and permanent employees (among others) who are doing identical work. It recognises that just because someone is labeled as a casual worker, it doesn’t mean they should have the insecurity (if they so wish to become permanent).

Implementing this principle will require employers and HR and P&C departments to carefully review their workforce and identify any regular casuals who may fall under this category.

We do not have a timeline for these changes just yet but expect there to be further commentary by the Government in the coming weeks and months.

Give NB Employment Law a call we offer an obligation-free consultation and are happy to help.  Reach out via [email protected] or +61 (07) 3876 5111 to book an appointment.

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Written By

Jonathan Mamaril


NB Employment Law 

[email protected]

+61 (07) 3876 5111

About the Author

Jonathan Mamaril leads a team of handpicked experts in the area of employment law who focus on educating clients to avoid headaches, provide advice on issues before they fester and when action needs to be taken and there is a problem mitigate risk and liability. With a core value of helping first and providing practical advice, Jonathan is a sought after advisor to a number of Employers and as a speaker for forums and seminars where his expertise is invaluable as a leader in this area as a lawyer for employers.

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[email protected] 
+61 (07) 3876 5111