Casual employees and their entitlements have come into the spotlight in recent weeks after the Fair Work Commission ruled in favour of having periods of “regular and systemic casual employment” included when determining redundancy entitlements.
Previously if an employee had started out as a casual and then changed to a permanent role (i.e. full or part time), the period of service for calculating redundancy entitlements would only be counted from when the employee had taken on the permanent role.
However with this ruling by the Fair Work Commission, for any employee that started out as a casual, employers will now need to assess the situation in a different light. The nature and frequency of work during the casual period of service will need to be assessed to decide whether it can be considered regular and systematic, and if so, it will need to be incorporated into the equation when determining the period of service.
Those employees who are casual at the time of termination, however, will not have eligibility for redundancy payments, nor will any employee that had a break in service between when they ended their term of casual employment and when they began their permanent position.
The debate around casuals and their entitlement to become permanent after six months service has also been in the news recently. Unions have been taking their claims to the Fair Work Commission, with final submissions due to be heard soon.
Unions argue that if a casual has been working “regularly” with an employer for six months or more, there should be clauses included in awards to allow these employees the right to a permanent position. Currently, many awards have a clause offering the employee the right to request a permanent position, but employers also have the right to refuse the request in a number of given circumstances.
With these changes in the works and the potential for more to follow, the only way to ensure you are keeping up to date is to keep a watchful eye on the awards covering your employees. One sure way to do this is to sign up for email updates from Fair Work. Select the award(s) specific to your workforce and you will be notified by email as soon as any change occurs. By implementing this easy safeguard you can ensure that you will always be amongst the first to be aware of any changes.
By: Barbara Nunn Payroll Subject Matter Expert