The Fair Work Commission has been busy at it again, in the lead up to the end of the calendar year!
In this blog, we will give you an overview of a number of changes which all employers need to be across, including:
- Inclusion of ‘Casual Conversion’ entitlements in more modern awards (is your award one of them?);
- New Flexible Working Arrangement clauses in all modern awards; and
- Family & Domestic Violence Leave set to be introduced for all employees in the NES (effecting both Award-covered and Award-free employees).
With effective dates ranging from 1 December to 1 January, let’s ensure that you’re up to date before the year wraps up!
Casuals to be notified of conversion rights by 1 January 2019
As part of the Fair Work Commission’s modern awards review, the Commission has inserted casual conversion provisions into some modern awards.
What is casual conversion?
Casual conversion is the ability for eligible casual employees to elect to convert their employment status to full time or part time.
What is the new clause about?
If your modern award contains the new standard conversion clause, casual employees who are “regular casuals” and have worked for 12 months with the employer will be eligible to request that their employment be converted to part time or full time employment.
Any request by a casual employee to convert their employment must be in writing. As an employer, you can refuse the request, however this must be on reasonable business grounds. In circumstances where you, as the employer, have refused the request, you must do this in writing and within 21 days of the date of the employee making the request.
Should a circumstance arise where an employee wishes to revert back to their casual employment status, this must also be done in writing.
How will I know if my award has the new casual conversion clause?
You will need to check the most up to date version of the modern award that is applicable to your business and/or your employees. The clause is typically found in the types of employment or casual employment clause.
To assist employers, we have provided a quick guide of some of the most common modern awards and whether they contain the new conversion clause:
|New Conversion Clause||
Does Not Contain New Conversion Clause
|Aged Care Award 2010||Building and Construction General Onsite Award 2010|
|Amusement Events and Recreation Award 2010||Electrical, Electronic, Communications and Contracting Award 2010|
|Banking Finance and Insurance Award 2010||Hospitality Industry General Award 2010|
|Cleaning Services Award 2010||Pharmacy Industry Award 2010|
|Clerks Private Sector Award 2010||Premixed Concrete Award 2010|
|Fast Food Industry Award 2010||Registered and Licensed Clubs Award 2010|
|Fitness Industry Award 2010|
|Gardening and Landscaping Services Award 2010|
|General Retail Industry Award 2010|
|Meat Industry Award 2010|
|Restaurant Industry Award 2010|
If your modern award is not in the above list, you can find the most up to date version of the modern award here: https://www.fwc.gov.au/awards-and-agreements/awards/modern-awards/modern-awards-list
My modern award does not have the new casual conversion clause, do I need to do anything?
In short, no, business will continue as usual.
My modern award has the new casual conversion clause, what does this mean for me?
Generally speaking, an employer must provide a casual employee with a copy of the clause from the modern award within the first twelve months of being employed with the employer. For existing casual employees who have worked since 1 October 2018, a copy of the casual conversion clause must be provided by 1 January 2019. Employers must comply with this obligation regardless of whether or not the casual has been employed on a regular and systematic basis or not.
Flexible Working Arrangements Clause in Modern Awards
From 1 December 2018 modern awards now include a clause regarding requests for flexible working arrangements. This clause will typically be found in the “Hours of Work” section of the applicable modern award.
In addition to what is already required under the Fair Work Act, the modern award clause clarifies for employers what they must do in order to comply with the requirements under the Fair Work Act which include steps before responding to the employee’s request for flexible working arrangements, responding to the request and what is to be included in the written response.
Family and Domestic Violence Leave set to be introduced into the NES
On 6 December 2018, the Fair Work Amendment (Family and Domestic Violence Leave) Bill 2018 passed both Houses of Parliament. The purpose of this Bill is to amend the Fair Work Act, in particular, the National Employment Standards (NES), to provide all employees with the ability to access 5 days unpaid Family and Domestic Violence Leave per year.
Whilst the Bill is not law yet, for employers that have employees covered by modern awards, they may already have a right to access Family and Domestic Violence Leave. Once again, you should check that the copy of the modern award you have saved or download is the most up to date.
As this is a new type of leave and records need to be kept of all leave taken by employees, it is recommended that your payroll system is updated to include a new code for Family and Domestic Violence Leave.
Feel free to reach out if you would like some support in understanding and implementing these changes. You can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org call us on (02) 4967 6695.