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Casual Conversion: What Are The Rules?

Casual employees can move to full-time or part-time employment after mutual agreement with their employer. Under the NES (National Employment Standards), casual employees have a right to access a pathway to become permanent, known as 'casual conversion'.

Who Can Access It?

Casual employees who have maintained a consistent schedule with their employer must be given the opportunity to move to permanent full-time or part-time roles.

However, specific eligibility criteria must be met for this transition to take place.

Also, under certain circumstances, casual employees may request their employer to convert their employment status to permanent full-time or part-time.

Small Business Employers

Small business employers (less than 15 employees) are not obligated to initiate the conversion of their casual employees into permanent positions.

However, should an eligible casual employee with a small business employer wish to transition to permanent employment, they may make such a request at any time following their 12-month anniversary of employment.

When receiving a request from an employee to convert to permanent status, employers are required to respond within 21 days. Their response must indicate whether the request has been accepted or declined. If declined, employers must provide written reasons for their decision, and they cannot refuse the request without consulting the employee and having reasonable grounds for refusal.

Offering Casual Conversion

Employers (excluding small business employers), must extend a written offer to convert their casual employees to permanent status within 21 days after the employee's 12-month anniversary, provided that the employee:

  • Has completed 12 months of service with the employer.

  • Has maintained a regular schedule of hours for at least the last 6 months.

  • Can sustain these hours as either a full-time or part-time employee without significant alterations.

The written offer must specify:

  • Full-time employment if the employee has consistently worked full-time hours for the last 6 months.

  • Part-time employment, aligning with the employee's established pattern of hours over the last 6 months, if they have worked less than full-time hours.

Employees must provide a written response to their employer within 21 days of receiving an offer to convert. Failure to respond within this timeframe will lead the employer to presume the offer has been declined by the employee.

Not Offering Casual Conversion

If an employer, excluding small business employers, opts not to offer casual conversion, they must notify the employee in writing within 21 days following the employee's 12-month anniversary.

This communication should outline:

  • The decision not to extend an offer of casual conversion.

  • The specific reasons behind this decision.

Acceptable reasons for not extending an offer include:

  • The employee has not maintained a regular pattern of hours:

  • Consistently, for at least the last 6 months.

  • That could feasibly continue without significant alterations as a full-time or part-time employee.

  • The employer possesses reasonable grounds for withholding the offer (see below).

Valid Reasons For Declining An Offer Or Refusing Conversion

If an employer declines to make an offer or rejects a conversion request for a casual employee based on "reasonable grounds," these grounds must be supported by known or reasonably foreseeable facts.

For example:

  • The position will cease to exist within the next 12 months.

  • There will be a significant reduction in the employee's working hours.

  • The employee's work schedule will see significant changes that cannot be accommodated within their availability.

Action Steps

  • Identify casuals who have been working for your business for coming up to 12 months

  • Review their work patterns for at least the last 6 months

  • Consider casual conversion and whether it is viable for your business

  • Get in touch if you get stuck

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