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What Do the Amendments to Australia’s Fair Work Act Mean?

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Globalization Partners: What Do the Amendments to Australia’s Fair Work Act Mean?

In 2009, the Australian government passed the Fair Work Act, which serves to govern the employee-employer relationship in most private workplaces within the country. There are a lot of details to consider, but it works by providing the terms and conditions for employment, as well as detailing the rights and responsibilities of both employees and employers. It also provides tools for administration and to help ensure compliance within the workplace.

 

In essence, the Fair Work Act is the foundation for all the minimum standards and regulations for employment within the national workforce. This has remained relatively unchanged since its inception, but it has recently been amended to cover other areas. These new amendments to the Fair Work Act create a definition for casual employment, as well as a pathway for casual employees to become permanent in either part- or full-time positions.

It also creates the Casual Employment Information Statement (CEIS). What do these Fair Work Act amendments mean for employers and employees living in Australia?

Casual employment in Australia

Casual employment is defined as someone who has accepted a job offer without a firm advance commitment to indefinite continued work with an agreed pattern of work. There are regulations in place to prevent casual employees from double-dipping, either intentionally or unintentionally. Misclassified employees who may be owed unpaid leave can be set off with previously paid casual loadings.

Pathways for casual employees

As a casual employee, you have the right to become a permanent employee in some circumstances. This is known as “casual conversion”. The process of “casual conversion” involves an offer by the employer or a request by the employee, but certain conditions do apply. If employees are working regular or systematic hours, or are found to be working under conditions “other than casual,” they may be able to transition to a full-time position.

The employee needs to be employed for at least 12 months, and have worked a regular pattern of hours without significant adjustment over a period of six months or more.

Casual Employment Information Statement (CEIS)

Employers must give every new casual employee the CEIS when they start the job. CEIS contains information about the definition of a casual employee, the requirements around offering and accepting casual conversion, and the role of the Fair Work Commission in disputes concerning casual conversion. The CEIS includes:

The official definition of a casual employee.

When an employer does or does not have to offer casual conversion.

When an employee can request casual conversion.

Entitlements owed to casual employees.

The Fair Work Commission’s role in any disputes.

These amendments apply to all fair work casual employees, even those who started their casual employment before the amendments went into effect. Employers are responsible for providing a CEIS to casual employees once every 12 months, though it can be delivered using a variety of methods.

Looking forward

Employers who maintain a team of casual employees have a lot of work ahead of them. If you still have questions about the Australian Fair Work Act, or fair work and casual employees in general, Globalization Partners has the answers. Contact us today.

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