The rules around an employee’s entitlement to be made a permanent employee after working a period of casual employment should be checked in the relevant award.
Q: Our company employs a considerable number of casual employees who are employed under the Manufacturing and Associated Industries Award 2010. One of these employees has approached their supervisor regarding the possibility of converting from casual employment to permanent part-time employment. The employee’s request has been triggered mainly because of the difficulty she has had in obtaining finance due to her casual employment. Because of the irregular nature of the work in that particular area of our business, the company would prefer that the employee remains a casual employee.
Does the employee have a right to elect to convert from casual employment to part-time employment?
A: The source of an entitlement to convert from casual employment to part-time (or full-time) employment would be the applicable modern award or enterprise agreement. The modern award in this instance (the Manufacturing Award) contains a clause (cl 14.4) which states that ‘a casual employee, other than an irregular casual employee, who has been engaged by a particular employer for a sequence of periods of employment under this award during a period of six months, thereafter has the right to elect to have their contract of employment converted to full-time or part-time employment if the employment is to continue beyond the conversion process’. (An ‘irregular casual’ is one who has been engaged to perform work on an occasional or non-systematic or irregular basis.)
The Award requires the employer must give notice in writing of this provision to the casual employee within four weeks after the six-month period.
Refusal . . .
The employer may refuse the election to convert but not unreasonably so. In considering a request, the employer may have regard to any of the following:
- the size and needs of the workplace or enterprise
- the nature of the work the employee has been doing
- the qualifications, skills and training of the employee
- the trading patterns of the workplace or enterprise (including cyclical and seasonal trading demand factors)
- the employee’s personal circumstances, including any family responsibilities.
Note: this provision is not ‘standard’ in all modern awards, although the employer should consider any such request on its merits (using the above criteria), regardless of whether the applicable modern award or enterprise agreement provides for conversion from casual employment to full-time or part-time employment.
Claire Harrison is the Founder and Managing Director of Harrisons, a flourishing HR consulting business that sprouted in 2009 from Claire’s passionate belief that inspiring leaders and superstar employees are the key success factor to any business. With over 20 years’ experience, Claire has worked as a HR Director of multi-national organisations, as a Non-Executive Board Director, and a small business owner. Claire’s corporate career includes working with companies such as BHP, Westpac, Fonterra and Mayne Nickless.