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New casual employment laws to kick in with $66k penalties


Australian businesses with long-term casual staff could soon face fines in excess of $66,000 if they fail to offer them permanent positions from next week, says the Fair Work Ombudsman.

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From 27 September, employers will need to begin contacting casual staff, employed for at least 12 months, with a written offer to convert them to permanent employment.

The requirement comes after reforms to the Fair Work Act were passed in March, giving casual employees the right to convert to permanent employment after 12 months of employment, if they have had a regular pattern of hours on an ongoing basis over the past six months.

Small-business employers, defined as those with fewer than 15 employees at any given time, are not required to offer their casual employees an opportunity to convert to permanent employment.


Employers will also not be required to make an offer if there are “reasonable grounds” not to do so. According to the FWO, such grounds include the position being made redundant, or where the employer would have to make a significant adjustment to the employee’s work hours for them to be employed full-time or part-time.

The law will require businesses to write to an employee within 21 days after the employee’s 12-month anniversary to inform them of the casual conversion offer, or reasons why they are not making the offer.

To accept an offer, employees need to respond in writing within 21 days after getting the offer. If they don’t respond, employers can assume that they’ve declined the offer.

Casual employees can also make a request to convert to permanent employment as long as they have been employed for at least 12 months, have worked a regular pattern of hours over the last six months, and can continue to work these hours in a full-time or part-time capacity.

Penalties in place

The FWO notes that employers cannot reduce or change an employee’s hours of work, or terminate their employment, to avoid having to offer or accept a request for casual conversion.

The new casual conversion entitlement is also now part of the National Employment Standards, meaning companies that fail to make an offer could face penalties in excess of $66,000, while individuals could face $13,000 in penalties.

Casual employees who are unfairly denied an opportunity to convert to permanent employment will also be able to refer their dispute to the Fair Work Commission or seek help from the Federal Circuit Court.

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Jotham Lian

Jotham Lian


Jotham Lian is the editor of Accountants Daily, the leading source of breaking news, analysis and insight for Australian accounting professionals.

Before joining the team in 2017, Jotham wrote for a range of national mastheads including the Sydney Morning Herald, and Channel NewsAsia.

You can email Jotham at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

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