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Changes to award terms on casual conversion

Award terms relating to casual conversion will change under new National Employment Standards.

The Fair Work Commission has been directed to amend award terms relating to casual conversion to be consistent with the updated National Employment Standards (NES), following the passage of the IR Omnibus Bill through Federal Parliament.

The purpose of this variation of modern awards was to remove inconsistencies, difficulties, or uncertainties caused by the amendments to the Act.

The Electrical, Electronic and Communications Award has long contained casual conversion rules which, under the new NES terms will change.

Note: Small businesses (those with fewer than 15 employees) will not be required to make offers of casual conversion.

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What are the changes?

Previously the timeframe for offers of casual conversion was six months. The new provisions mean there will now be a period of 12 months before there is a requirement to offer conversion.

A further test will be that the worker, during the last six months has worked a regular pattern of hours on an ongoing basis which, without significant adjustment, and could continue to work as a full-time employee or a part-time employee.

Employers must keep a record of their offer to casual workers and the worker’s response on their employment file. The offer needs to be made within 21 days of the 12 months. The employee must give a written response within 21 days to the offer and the employer must then also respond within 21 days. Employment records should be kept for a period of seven years.

What are the exceptions?

There are exceptions to an employer to not offer conversion on reasonable business grounds:

  1. The position will cease to exist in the next period of 12 months;
  2. The hours of work which the employee is required to perform will be significantly reduced in that period;
  3. there will be a significant change in either or both of the following in that period:
    1. the days on which the employee’s hours of work are required to be performed;
    2. the times at which the employee’s hours of work are required to be performed, which cannot be accommodated within the days or times the employee is available to work during that period;
  4. Making the offer would not comply with a recruitment or selection process required by or under a law of the Commonwealth or a State or a Territory.

The casual employee will retain residual rights to request casual conversion if the above conditions on offers and reasonable business grounds are not met.

The Fair Work Commission (FWC) has advised that while it will hear casual conversion disputes it reminded employers and employees that every modern award and enterprise agreement has a dispute resolution clause.

Master Electricians have unlimited access to the MEA Employer Advice hotline. If you have any questions on the application of the casual conversion clause of the award, please contact the Employment Advice line on 1300 889 198.

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