With the presentation of the IR Omnibus Bill to Parliament there has been a flurry of media coverage about what the Bill will mean for casual employees and employers of casuals…and for the most part the coverage has been unhelpful at best, and plain wrong at its worst. So what are the real life implications of the changes in the Bill for fuel wholesale and retail businesses?

Definition of Casual Employment

The Bill includes a definition of a casual – which it is truly shocking to think the Australian employment landscape has not had until now.

The practical impact on fuel wholesale and retail businesses of this definition will be that there will be no real change to the day to day operations at a business level. The definition uses specific language that businesses may want to adopt into their own engagement documents.

When the legislation passes and becomes law ACAPMA will provide all members with updated template documents to assist in adjusting to this particular element.

Casual Conversion

There has been much talk in the media about the “new” rights of employees to become permanent…but ACAPMA Members will be well aware that the right to Casual Conversion has been live in the fuel wholesale and transport industry since before the Modern Awards, and that Casual Conversion was added to almost all other Awards in 2018.

What the Bill proposes to do is to escalate the Casual Conversion rights to the legislative level, meaning they are available to all Federal System employees, not just those whoes Awards have those clauses.

The Bill also proposes a slight reordering of the steps of Casual Conversion. The new order, if the Bill is approved and becomes law, make a bit more sense, particularly from the employee perspective.

Under the current approach the busienss is requried to send the employee a letter reminding them they have the right to convert to permanent, then if the employee says “yes please I will convert” the busienss considers if conversion is appropriate…and the business can say “actually we cannot convert you because of XYZ [business reasons]”. Understandably this approach has triggered many employees to say “well why did you tell me I could convert” and of course the answer is “because that is what the business was requried to do”.

Under the proposed approach of the Bill, the business will have to send the employee a letter, either one that is an offer to convert to permanent, or one that is a notice that it is not appropriate to convert the employee because of XYZ [business reasons]. So the business still has the option of not converting the employee – for the same reasons that exist now – but the absurdity of reminding the employee of the right, waiting for them to get excited and ask to convert, and then turning around and saying “actually no” is removed in the new approach.

What remains the same is that the business can still reject conversion based on genuine business grounds…and the employee can choose to stay a casual, even if the business makes an offer to convert.

The Bill has not yet passed through the hoops it needs to to become law, and until it does the Award and the Casual Conversion process that exists in it must be followed.

What do the changes mean from a broader political and employment standpoint?

Great questions…check out; ________________ for more on the broader impact aims and changes of the Bill.

Here to Help

ACAPMS’s Employment Department is available to assist members via employment@acapma.com.au

HR Highlights are things to consider, implement and watch out for in your business.  They are provided as general advice and should seek further advice on your situation by emailing employment@acapma.com.au to reach one of the ACAPMA Workplace Relations Professionals, its free for members.

ACAPMA membership is affordable at only $810 per year for a single site and valuable with sites gaining HR advice support and representation as well as a raft of other benefits and discounts. Click here to learn more about ACAPMA membership.

Elisha Radwanowski BCom(HRM&IR)
Executive Manager Employment and Training