Casual workers who have worked regular hours for at least 12 months may now ask their employer for permanent positions, according to a new ruling by the Fair Work Commission. The new rules, which were implemented in October, are expected to improve the welfare of casual staff, providing them with opportunities for permanent employment.

The food and hospitality industry is one of the biggest employers of casual workers. According to a 2016 report, this sector accounts for 20% of all casual workers in Australia. Moreover, more than half (65%) of employees in the food business are casuals.

Under the new ruling, employees may request for full-time employment if there is a likelihood that their employment will continue. As permanent employees, they become eligible to request for flexible working arrangements, among other benefits.

According to the Fair Work Ombudsman, casual workers refer to employees who do not have a fixed number of hours of work and are not entitled to paid sick or annual leave. After working for the same employer for a long period, some casual employees become ‘long term casuals’. These are workers who receive the entitlements of a casual worker but have agreed to ongoing employment and a pattern of hours of work.

The Restaurant Industry Award 2010, requires employers to give notice to casual employees in writing that they can request to change to full-time employment within the first 12 months. Casual workers employed on October 1 should receive this notice by 1st January 2019.

Casual employees may still request to shift to a permanent position even when they don’t receive this notice.

Right to refuse

Employees who want to be converted from part-time to full-time employment have to send their request to their employers in writing. Employers still have the right to refuse the request, but they are required to provide reasonable grounds to do so.

Reasonable grounds for refusal include the following:

  • The job in question will cease to exist in the next year
  • The staff asking to be shifted to a permanent position is not working regular hours
  • The employee’s availability for work may not be able to accommodate significant changes in the operation that will occur in the next 12 months

Employers are required to give the casual worker their reasons for refusing the request within 21 days of receipt of the request.

Securing permanent work

Fair Work’s new ruling offers a new pathway towards permanent work for those who have not been given that option in the past. The opportunity for permanent work guarantees paid annual leave and paid sick leave for staff. For casual workers who have been employed by the same business for a year, getting a permanent position allows them to plan their finances more efficiently.

What are your thoughts on this new ruling?
With the prospect of landing permanent positions, staff morale will definitely go up. But this can also affect foodservice operations moving forward. There is definitely an opportunity for businesses looking towards expansion to plan ahead in terms of the kind of permanent staff they will be needing for the years to come. It’s also an opportunity to be more efficient when it comes to hiring seasonal workers.

Have a chat with us about the implications for your business from a numbers perspective.

Christine Green and the Team at Restaurant Bookkeepers Australia.

For a confidential, no obligation chat, get in touch with us. Phone: 1300 043 127

You may also want to read more on staff management and finding the correct payroll award for employees here.