In October 2018, most modern awards were changed to include a model casual conversion clause. This clause has implications for businesses who employ regular casual workers who work on an ongoing basis in a pattern of hours which can be performed as a full-time or part-time employee.

What is a casual conversion request?

A casual conversion request is where a regular casual who has worked equivalent full-time hours over the preceding 12 months’ casual employment can request to have their employment converted to full-time employment.

A regular casual working less than full-time hours can request conversion to part-time employment.

The request must be made in writing, and any refusal, along with the reasons for the refusal must be provided by the employer within 21 days.

Under the model clause, employers were required to provide a copy of the relevant casual conversion clause to all casual employees employed as at 1 October 2018, by 1 January this year.

Can you refuse a request for casual conversion?

Yes, but there are rules for it.

Employers may only refuse a request for casual conversion under the model clause if it is reasonable to do so.

Reasonable grounds for refusal include that:

  • it would require a significant adjustment of the casual employee’s hours to be engaged as a full-time or part-time employee;
  • it is known or reasonably foreseeable that the position will cease to exist within the next 12 months;
  • it is known or reasonably foreseeable that the hours of work required to be performed 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 days and/or times the employee’s hours of work are required to be performed in the next 12 months which cannot be accommodated within the days or hours in which the employee is available to work.

What you need to do – right now

Employers need to carefully review their award coverage to determine if their casual employees are affected by the clause. 

If you currently employ casual employees covered by an award containing a casual conversion we recommend the following:

  • An email sent to all casual employees covered by a relevant award informing them of their right to casual conversion and providing the relevant casual conversion clause.
  • Ensure that you update your key employment documents such that when you hire a new casual employee covered by a relevant award, that you include a copy of the casual conversion clause from the award in their employment pack (this could also contain their contract, tax file number and super information).
  • Ensure that any conversion request is carefully considered in line with the requirements which apply to any refusal.

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