26 September 2023

Promotion of casuals in a Circular

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Public Servants on casual contracts may be able to request a conversion to full- or part-time work even if they have been advised that a casual conversion offer would not be made, under terms in a new Australian Public Service Commission (APSC) Circular.

In its Circular 2022/10: Fair Work Act casual employment provision, the APSC declares Agencies are expected to convert casual employees to ongoing roles where the required criteria were met, and must be mindful of the Government’s intention to facilitate more secure work in Commonwealth Agencies.

It said APS Agencies must apply Fair Work Act 2009 (FW Act) casual conversion provisions in a manner consistent with the APS Employment Principles.

The Commission said the casual conversion provisions in the FW Act applied to all former, existing and new casual employees, providing their initial employment offer met the Act’s new definition of casual employment.

It said a person was defined as a casual employee if their employment offer made no firm advance commitment to continuing and indefinite work, the offer was accepted on that basis, and the person was an employee as a result of that acceptance.

APSC said the new FW Act definition clarified that an employee could be a casual even if they were engaged to perform a regular pattern of hours.

“Where an Agency intends for an employee to be engaged on a casual basis, this should be communicated to the employee clearly at the time of engagement,” the Circular says.

“Agencies should ensure that terms in contracts of employment do not circumvent the correct operation of the FW Act, for example by stating the casual conversion will not be considered for the position.”

It said Agencies were required to write to casual employees within 21 days of the 12-month anniversary of their engagement to either make an offer of conversion or to inform them that an offer wouldn’t be made and the reasons why.

The Commission said eligible employees had a right to request casual conversion, and employers had obligations in response to such requests.

“In some cases, employees may have a residual right to request casual conversion when they have previously been provided with written notice a casual conversion offer will not be made,” it said.

“Where an eligible employee has requested casual conversion, this request may not be denied without consultation with the employee.”

The APSC encouraged Agencies to review their casual employment arrangements to determine whether the work was genuinely irregular and intermittent, or whether ongoing roles should be advertised.

“An APS Agency decision maker is strongly encouraged to create an ongoing vacancy to make an offer to convert a casual employee in appropriate cases.”

Circular 2022/10 revokes and replaces Circular 2021-03 Fair Work Act changes to casual employment.

Circular 2022/10 can be accessed at this PS News link.

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