Casual workers win right to request permanent work

The FWC has ruled that casual workers should have the option to convert to permanent employment

Casual workers win right to request permanent work
Under a new Fair Work Commission ruling, casual workers have won the right to request permanent roles after 12 months if they work regular hours over a year.

The FWC determined that a change to permanent work could occur if a “casual employee (over a calendar period of 12 months) has worked a pattern of hours on an ongoing basis which, without significant adjustment, could continue to be performed in accordance with the full-time or part-time employment provisions of the relevant award”.

"Some employers do engage indefinitely as casuals persons who under the relevant award provisions may be, and want to be, employed permanently," the FWC said in its decision summary.

The decision covers 85 modern awards, which include hospitality, retail, manufacturing, community services, child care and farming sectors.

The FWC also said that organisations can refuse to move casual workers to permanent roles if doing so would require a significant adjustment to the employees' hours or if it was clear their role would cease to exist.

The ACTU Secretary Sally McManus said the Australian unions fought for this improvement “but it only plugs one small hole in a nationwide crisis”.

“Casual workers earn less wages and lower superannuation. Women are more often in casual employment than men, and casualisation contributes to the gender pay gap,” said McManus.

She added that the decision is the “first small step towards addressing the crisis of insecure work and casualisation in Australia’s workforce”.

“While the Commission accepted the ACTU’s argument around the impact casualisation has on people’s lives, it is unable to address the bigger problem. We need political action to achieve that,” she said.

“Business too often organises its workforce and its capital to avoid the protections that were supposed to be there for working people. This decision deals with just one of the forms of casualisation that have prevented modern workplaces keeping pace with modern life.

“Permanent positions allow people to plan for the future, to get loans, to budget, and to have a decent quality of living.”

Moreover, the Greens employment spokesperson Adam Bandt MP said his party have pursued legislation in Parliament to give casuals a right to convert to ongoing employment.

“Casual work can be precarious. If someone is working in an established, regular pattern they deserve the entitlements and security that come with permanent work,” he said.

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