Last week, the Federal Court of Australia handed down a decision in favour of a worker who claimed he was a permanent full-time employee instead of a casual. The landmark judgement could have wide-ranging implications for casual employees across Australia and a potential increase in similar cases. With casual workers accounting for about 20% of the Australian working population, employers need to be aware of the implications of this case and how it could affect their business.
What the decision means:
- Regardless of the requirements that apply to a workforce under awards or enterprise agreements, if an employee has a regular and predictable pattern of work with an expectation of ongoing engagements, they are likely to be permanent as opposed to casual.
- Where an employee commences employment with irregular hours under a casual contract, the casual can morph into a permanent employee during the course of the employment relationship, regardless of whether the parties continue to describe the relationship as casual.
As a result of the decision, a large number of employees currently described by employers as ‘casuals’ could in fact be permanent.
What should employers do?
- Employers should review their existing casual workforce to determine whether any of their existing casuals could be considered permanent.
- Consider if any casual employees should be made permanent and thoroughly document this conversion.
- Consider why you are employing casuals. It can often result in being more expensive to hire a casual on a long-term basis than employing a permanent employee.
If a casual is found to be a permanent employee, they will automatically become entitled to paid annual and personal leave (accumulating for each year of their service), notice of termination and redundancy entitlements.
For advice regarding casual employees, please contact us on (08) 9316 9896 or firstname.lastname@example.org.