Significant changes around casual employees laws



In other important changes to the Fair Work Act 2001 (Cth), the definition of ‘casual’ and the process of casual conversion have been significantly amended with the changes coming into effect on 26 August 2024.  

In summary, the changes involve: 

  • removing the current definition of casual employee at section 15A, introducing a new definition; 
  • substituting the existing casual conversion arrangement with new ‘employee choice regarding casual employment’ scheme; 
  • establishing mechanisms for resolving disputes concerning the implementation of the employee choice arrangements, including compulsory arbitration; and 
  • introducing new general protections concerning certain actions. 

Griffin Legal can assist in revising your policies, procedures and agreements to reflect these changes. We can also provide advice when it comes to determining when an employee meets the definition of a casual employee and assistance with the casual conversion process.  

Definition of casual employee 

The language changes from the mere terms set out by an employment agreement to centre around defining the actual “employment relationship”. The definition established by the new section 15A is: 

An employee is a casual employee only if: 

  1. the employment relationship is characterised by an absence of a firm advance commitment to continuing and indefinite work; and 
  2. the employee would be entitled to a casual loading or a specific rate of pay for casual employees under the terms of a fair work instrument if the employee were a casual employee, or the employee is entitled to such a loading or rate of pay under the contract of employment 

Compared to the previous definition, the focus of the new definition is now on the nature of the employment arrangement, specifically the regularity and remuneration rate of the employment. 

In determining the regularity of the “employment relationship”, subsection (2) requires that the following is to be considered: 

  • the real substance, practical reality and true nature of the employment relationship;  
  • whether there is a contract, mutual understanding or expectations of “firm advance commitment”; and 
  • other factors, such as whether the employer or employee can offer and reject work; whether there will be future availability of continuing the same kind of work; whether that kind of work is usually performed by full or part-time employees; and whether there are regular patterns of work. 

Significant changes to ‘casual conversion’ – now ‘Employee Choice 

Changes to casual conversion come into effect on 26 August 2024.  

Under the current ‘casual conversion’ scheme, the onus is on the employer to offer a permanent position to the employee after 12 months of employment if it included six months of regular work on an ongoing basis. 

This ‘conversion’ system will stop operating. In its place, a new system of ‘employee choice’ will be in operation, where the onus now falls on the employee to initiate their own transition to permanent work. Under the new section 66AAB of the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth), an employee can opt to give their employer a written notification to ‘change’ the nature of their employment following six months of employment, 12 months for a small business where they have not previously had a notification be denied or have had a related dispute. 

An employer who receives a notification must respond in writing to the employee within 21 days, before which, they must consult with the employee. If the employer wishes to accept the notification, during this consultation, the employee’s hours of work and the day which the change to permanent employment takes effect must be discussed. The day which the permanent employment takes effect is also to be the first day of the employee’s first full pay period and must be specified in the written response. 

The employer under certain circumstances may also choose to not accept the notification. This can only occur if the employee’s role still meets the definition of ‘casual’, if there are fair and reasonable operational grounds for not accepting the notification and if accepting the notification would result in the employer not complying with a recruitment or selection process required by or under a law of the Commonwealth or State/Territory. 

Resolving disputes 

Should there be a dispute, in the first instance, the parties must attempt to resolve the dispute at the workplace level, by discussion between the parties. Then, should these discussions at the workplace level not resolve the dispute, the parties may refer the dispute before the Fair Work Commission. 

Additional protections 

The new amendments also include protections against dismissing an employee to engage them as a casual employee, and against an employer is knowingly making a false statement for the purposes of persuading or influencing the individual to enter into a contract for casual employment under which the employee would be performing substantially the same work. 

Griffin Legal can assist with these changes including advice, with disputes and in revising your organisation’s policies, procedures and agreements to reflect these changes.  

For more information, please contact our team at

Parental Leave for Casual Employees

For casual employees the unpredictability of their employment can be a major source of stress as often casual employees miss out on many of the entitlements that full-time and part-time employees enjoy. For many, this concern is further exacerbated when they learn that they are about to become a parent. It should therefore be of …
Read more

Purchasing an Off-the-Plan Property

The interest in “off-the-plan” properties is ever increasing and is becoming more popular for buyers. An off-the-plan purchase is one where the Buyer enters into a contract to purchase a property that has not yet been constructed. Due to the prolonged settlement period for an off-the-plan purchase it is imperative for buyers and sellers to …
Read more