Urgent and Important update on the legal landscape around employing casuals

Do your clients have casual workers? Is there any chance your clients will employ casual staff within the foreseeable future? If yes, it is absolutely critical that they are on top of the multitude of changes to the employment law landscape that have presented in recent months.

There are 2 particular risks that are new, and extremely important for any employer to be on top of:

  1. The ‘Back Pay’ risk.

This is the risk that your clients might be left in a situation where they are required to back pay casual staff the value of entitlements as though they had been permanent staff, ON TOP of the casual loading they have already received. Effectively new case law at the end of 2018* has paved the way to allow “double dipping” in certain instances, so this a live and real risk for anyone employing casual staff.

In this case, an ambiguously worded contract meant a worker who was employed on a casual basis (therefore receiving a 25% casual loading) was able to ‘double dip’ and receive entitlements such as paid annual leave on top of that casual loading.

This finding of the Court has the potential to open the flood gates for other, similar claims which is really concerning for employers of casual staff.

  1. The right of casuals to request conversion to a permanent position.

Under recent legislation that has commenced*, employees working on a casual basis now have the right to request that their role be converted to a permanent position if they meet certain requirements.

This process – of converting an employee from casual to permanent employment if they make a request – is called ‘casual conversion’ and employers are only able to refuse a request if they have ‘reasonable grounds’ for doing so.

The legislation also creates a number of obligations for employers of casual staff, for example, in relation to the notification that must be given to casual employees of this right to request conversion. These notification requirements are in force NOW – and your clients need to be providing this notification to their casual staff immediately.

Penalties apply for failure to comply with these obligations.

Take-aways

If your clients employ casuals they need to get advice quickly about their situation, so they understand what they can be doing to reduce their risks of having to back pay on top of casual loading, and to understand what steps they need to be taking now to comply with the new casual conversion legislation.

Aspect Legal is a legal firm that provides proactive commercial legal services to SMEs and middle market businesses – and as a way to provide value to Chan & Naylor and its clients, we are providing access to a free telephone service that your clients can use in order to have an initial discussion to help them understand how these important changes might impact their business, and the simple steps they can be taking now to protect their business.

In order to take advantage of the complimentary telephone advice, you can either send this alert to your clients, or click here to line up a time for you, or them to speak with our specialist team.

We also have further information in an article, and on our Podcast Talking Law here – where we talk about this issue in more detail.

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