Preparing for casual conversion to part-time employment

September 24, 2021
FCB Workplace Law

By Monday 27 September 2021, employers with more than 15 employees must assess whether any casuals employed before 27 March 2021 are eligible for casual conversion to permanent part-time or full-time employment. Read this article for more information about the casual conversion process, including where offers of conversion must be made.

Where an offer of part-time employment is made, it is essential employers are across any obligations contained in applicable awards or enterprise agreements that arise for newly converted part-time employees.

The regular pattern of work requirement

Unlike casual employment, which allows for the employer to flexibly alter the hours and days of work offered (if any work at all), many awards and enterprise agreements require part-time employment to be subject to written agreement on a regular pattern of work between the employee and employer.

Under the General Retail Industry Award 2020 for example, the employer must enter into a written agreement with a part-time employee at the time of engagement which must cover:

  • The guaranteed hours to be worked on particular days of the week;
  • The start and finish times for those days; and
  • When meal breaks may be taken and the duration.

Other awards may be less onerous: the Nurses Award 2020 only requires written agreement as to the minimum number of hours and the applicable rostering arrangements, the Banking, Finance and Insurance Award 2020 allows the employer to unilaterally inform the part-time employee of their hours of work and starting/finishing times, while the Animal Care and Veterinary Services Award 2020 does not require any such agreement or notification.

It should be noted that whilst employers may be able to change a casual employee’s hours of work from week-to-week, in many instruments a part-time employee’s hours must be regular and may only be able to be changed with the employee’s written agreement or a minimum period of notice.

It is vital that employers are aware of these obligations before the newly converted part-time employee commences work.

Overtime requirements

Casuals converted to part-time employment may also receive different overtime entitlements as a result of their part-time status.

In many awards, such as the Pastoral Award 2020 and the Fast Food Industry Award 2020, part-time employees are entitled to overtime payments where they have worked more than their agreed pattern of hours.

Other instruments may have different rules; for example, the Children’s Services Award 2020 permits additional hours to be paid at ordinary rates if they’re worked within certain times of the day and only up to a specified maximum.

Employers should also check if overtime is payable, it must be paid at an increased rate as stipulated in the relevant award or agreement, or whether employees may be able to take time in lieu of the overtime hours worked.

We recommended checking the relevant award or agreement throughout the process of casual conversion and transition into part-time employment and contact the team at FCB Group to clarify any compliance questions you may have.