Will New Casual Employment Rules Impact Your Business?
A large number of Australian businesses may be impacted by the recent changes introduced by the Fair Work commission and the Ombudsman with respect to casual employment in Australia.
The new provision will now allow workers who are employed on a casual basis, the right to request full-time or part-time employment if they have worked regular hours over a set 12-month period.
Fair Work Commission ruling on Casual Employment
On introduction of this clause, the Fair Work Commission bench had stated that if the employment is long term in nature with sufficient regularity, then it would be fair and reasonable for the employee to have access to those benefits that would otherwise arise in a permanent employment arrangement.
This new law is set to heavily impact the way small businesses manage and roster casual staff and will likely add to the financial burden on many industries, particularly those running on smaller margins i.e fast food, retail and hospitality.
In a recent case heard by the Federal Court, it has been ruled in favour of a truck driver who claimed that the labour-hire firm owed him $21,000 in annual leave despite the firm claiming the driver was a casual employee under the Fair Work act. With only the High Court being able to overturn the decision at this point, it goes to show the direction and dire consequences that Australian Small Businesses may now face.
Knowing the rules, so your Business is protected
Employers can still refuse the employees’ request for Full Time or Part Time employment on reasonable grounds, such as that they expect the position would no longer exist in 12 months. It may however prove detrimental if you don’t get it right in the first instance.
To add to the concerns of the many SMEs who are now unsure if these changes will impact their businesses, director at Workplace Law, Athena Koelmeyer, says that there isn’t a lot of good news and that as a business owner, you should “expect you are at risk” for claims made by regular employees.
These new changes are set to take effect from the start of the first full pay period, beginning on or after 1 January 2018.
Consult an expert
If you are a small business, employing casual workers who work systematically and regularly, then you may run the risk of these employees arguing that their employment is not “random or adhoc” or that they “work the same hours every week and should receive other entitlements”.
If you are worried about these changes and require professional advice, our industry partners are well equipped to provide customised expert advice across all areas of employment relations.
Get in touch with us now to see how we can help.