Casual Employment & Small Business – We Now Have a Firm Definition!

On 26 March, the Fair Work Act 2009 (FW Act) was amended and now has clarified those aspects of casual work definition that have always been ambiguous.

Definition of “Casual Employee”

The definition of a “Casual Employee” is “a person is a casual employee if they accept a job offer from an employer knowing that there is no firm advance commitment to ongoing work with an agreed pattern of work”. ( A casual will continue to be a casual employee until they become a permanent employee through either casual conversion, are offered and accept an offer of full or part-time employment, or are no longer employed by the employer.


Pathway to Permanent Employment

There is now a pathway to permanent employment (full or part-time), known as “Casual Conversion”. Employers other than “Small Business Employers” (see definition below) MUST offer their casual employees the opportunity to convert to full or part-time (permanent) employment when the employee has worked for the employer for 12 months, worked a regular pattern of hours for at least the last 6 of those months on an ongoing basis and could continue working those hours as a permanent employee without significant changes.


Reasonable grounds for refusal

An exception to this, apart from Small Business Owners, is if an employer has “reasonable grounds”, not to make an offer to a casual employee for casual conversion. Reasonable grounds include:

 Reasonable grounds for refusal include that:

(a)      it would require a significant adjustment to the casual employee’s hours of work in order for the employee to be engaged as a full-time or part-time employee in accordance with the provisions of this award –that is, the casual employee is not truly a regular casual employee as defined in FW Act 2009.

(b)      it is known or reasonably foreseeable that the regular casual employee’s position will cease to exist within the next 12 months;

(c)     it is known or reasonably foreseeable that the hours of work which the regular casual employee is required to perform will be significantly reduced in the next 12 months; or

(d)    it is known or reasonably foreseeable that there will be a significant change in the days and/or times at which the employee’s hours of work are required to be performed in the next 12 months which cannot be accommodated within the days and/or hours during which the employee is available to work.


The Right to Request Casual Conversion

Casual employees, including those working for small businesses, have the right to request casual conversion at any time if they meet the requirements. Casual employees who work for businesses other than small businesses can request conversion after their employer has decided not to make an offer for casual conversion.

What’s next?

Employers must give every new casual employee a Casual Employment Information Statement (the CEIS) before, or as soon as possible after, they start their new job.

Small business employers need to give their existing casual employees a copy of the CEIS as soon as possible after 27 March 2021. Other employers have to give their existing casual employees a copy of the CEIS as soon as possible after 27 September 2021.

Download the Casual Employment Information Statement and find more information here.


Definition of Small Business

A small business employer is an employer with fewer than 15 employees at a particular time. If an employer has 15 or more employees at a particular time, they are no longer a small business employer. When counting the number of employees, employees of associated entities of the employer are included. Casual employees are not included unless engaged on a regular and systematic basis.

Source reference: Fair Work Act 2009 s.23

Jo Attard Watters is the Managing Principal and Founder of PeopleEdge Coaching & Consulting. Jo is a professional, Master’s degree qualified Executive and Career Management Coach, Consultant, Business Adviser and Academic who works with individuals and organisations to help them “be the best they can be”. With significant experience within both Corporate and Not for Profit sectors, Jo is passionate about seeing her clients succeed in their areas of interest.  

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