|On 5 July 2017, a five-member Full Bench of the Commission handed down its decision concerning part-time and casual employment as part of its four year review of modern awards. Both unions and employer representative bodies alike submitted a broad range of changes to the awards.
As part of its decision, the Commission will insert a model casual conversion provision into over 80 modern awards which do not already contain a casual conversion clause, including the Security Services Industry Award. The proposed clause enables casual employees to request to convert to full-time or part-time employment, subject to certain rules and restrictions.
The draft model clause includes a requirement that casual employees are to be provided with a copy of the model clause within the first 12 months of the employee’s engagement with the employer.
The casual conversion clause will allow a casual worker to convert to part-time or full-time employment if:
- a qualifying period of 12 calendar months is met;
- the casual employee must have worked a pattern of hours on an ongoing basis over the 12 month period which could continue to be worked on a full-time or part-time basis without significant adjustment
- the employer must provide all casual employees with a copy of the casual conversion clause within the first 12 months after their initial engagement.
It also allows employers to reject a request for conversion on ‘reasonable grounds’ which include:
- it would require a significant adjustment to the casual employee’s hours of work to accommodate them in full-time or part-time employment under the applicable modern award; or
- it is known or reasonably foreseeable that the casual employee’s position will cease to exist; or
- the employee’s hours of work will significantly change or be reduced within the next 12 months; or
- on other reasonable grounds based on facts which are known or reasonably foreseeable.
Where an employer refuses a regular casual employee’s request to convert, the employer must provide the employee with the written reasons for the refusal within 21 days of the request being made. Disputes arising from the refusal can be dealt with in accordance with the dispute resolution procedure in the modern award.
The Full Bench is yet to issue determinations in relation to this decision and has invited parties to make further submissions about certain proposals including its draft model conversion clause. It not anticipated the changes will take effect until after August 2017.
Employers should be mindful of the Commission’s decision and start thinking about what they will need to do when the final model conversion clause does come into force in a wide range of awards. This should include considering the mechanisms they will need to have in place to properly address each request for conversion, as well as reviewing their ‘on boarding’ procedures to ensure employees receive the correct information required, once the Commission’s decision comes into effect.