Newsflash! Australian employers encouraged to ‘retire’ casual staff at twelve months!
I woke up this morning to the news that the Fair Work Commission had accepted Union demands to give casual workers permanent work;
“If the casual employment turns out to be long-term in nature, and to be of sufficient regularity … then we consider it to be fair and necessary for the employee to have access to a mechanism by which the casual employment may be converted to an appropriate form of permanent employment,” the full bench found.
Most of my colleagues are on casual contracts, many have been for years, including myself. I’ve done the same job, for the same money for five years. Each year is covered by two casual contracts, which are zero hours when I sign them.
So you’re thinking hey this is good right? I can now ask for permanent work?
Yeah I guess that’s true except three things;
Employers can refuse the request on reasonable grounds including that…. they could foresee their position would no longer exist in the next 12 months.
First, What stops an employer from simply saying ‘I don’t think your job will exist in twelve months’?
Second, there’s casual loading in casual pay, to compensate for being casual. It’s probably about 30% would be my guess. Does this mean a pay cut? Do casuals trade permanence for less money?
But perhaps the most problematic implication is this; employers will be penalised for employing a casual for longer than twelve months. Surely this will encourage them to replace ‘old’ casuals with ‘new ones’ to prevent them from applying for permanent positions?