The impact of casual to permanent employment legislation on employers
The FWC rulings are a positive change for employers, according to Joe Murphy, Managing Director National Workplace at Australian Business Lawyers & Advisors. The rulings provide greater clarity for employers who may have previously been unsure of how to handle requests for permanent employment from casuals.
"There's definitely more upsides than downsides to the decision," says Murphy. "While businesses need to issue a notice of conversion within the first 12 months, we know that for many employers who have these long term casuals, it's usually an arrangement of mutual convenience. The employee gets their casual loading and the employer doesn't have to keep accrued annual leave and sick leave on its ledger."
"However we have seen the situation, when a long term casual employee turns around and says 'I should have always been a permanent employee, I want my sick leave and annual leave'. This decision is going to manage some of that risk to employers," he adds.
What's the impact for casual employees?
For employees looking to go from casual to permanent employment, the FWC changes provide a range of benefits. Casual workers' rights don't include paid leave. By becoming a permanent team member, employees have access to entitlements including paid sick and annual leave. They are also guaranteed a fixed number of hours in a week, and more stability and security in their role.
While there will be some employees switching from casual to permanent employment, the impact likely won't be as significant as employers may believe. This is largely due to pay. When transitioning from casual to permanent employment, employees will likely see a reduction in their casual loading rate. Casual employees therefore need to decide whether to stay with their current arrangement or sacrifice their pay rate and long term casual employee rights.
"There's no doubt there will be an uptake, but I think the uptake is going to be limited. Faced with a 20% pay cut, most casuals are just not going to be attracted to the offer of full-time or part-time employment," says Murphy.