The change comes as casual retail workers also have their penalty rates increased on Saturdays and weeknights, ahead of the busy Christmas period. FILE IMAGE
The change comes as casual retail workers also have their penalty rates increased on Saturdays and weeknights, ahead of the busy Christmas period. FILE IMAGE

New rights for casual workers: What you need to know

CASUAL workers now have the right to ask their bosses for a permanent position if they have worked regular hours for at least one year.

The Fair Work Commission released a ruling last year that an employee who worked an average of 38 hours for at least 12 months could ask for their position to be converted to a permanent full-time job.

Those who worked less than 38 hours can ask to be a part-time employee if they work a "pattern of hours", according to the ruling that took effect on October 1.

The workers have to put the request in writing to their boss, who can still refuse it but only if there are "reasonable grounds" and after they have discussed this with the staff member.

This could include that the position would likely not exist within the next 12 months or if the hours of work would likely drop. They can also refuse if the days or times the employee is expected to work is expected to change.

Becoming a permanent member of staff would give staff access to paid sick leave and paid annual leave. It also guarantees them a certain number of working hours and pay. At the moment casual employees can have their shifts cut at the last minute.

The change comes as casual retail workers also have their penalty rates increased on Saturdays and weeknights, ahead of the busy Christmas period.

The full bench of the Fair Work Commission, headed by Justice Iain Ross, ruled the Saturday penalty rate for retail casuals should be increased from 10 per cent to 25 per cent.

Casuals starting work after 6pm on weekdays will be brought into line with permanent retail employees, who get a 25 per cent loading on those shifts.

"In our view, the current casual rates for Monday to Friday evening work and Saturday work lack logic and merit," the decision said.

Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association national secretary Gerard Dwyer said the changes would benefit more than 350,000 workers covered by the award.

"These measures go some way to addressing the unjust treatment of casual workers under the award who are not properly compensated for the absence of sick pay, annual leave and the insecurity of work," Mr Dwyer said.

The new rates are set to come into place from November 1.

Retailers are fuming over the "disastrous" decision, expressing grave concern for the industry ahead of Christmas trading.

"Retailers usually thrive during the Christmas period. However, this year I'm concerned many retailers will bear the brunt of an unjust and detrimental decision," Australian Retailers Association executive director Russell Zimmerman said.

"Casual staff are the lifeblood of the retail industry and instead of seeing our retailers shine this Christmas, we will see them undertake more pressure and have to make serious decisions about their Christmas trade."

The penalty rate increase comes after the commission last year cut retail casuals' Sunday rates, with those changes to be phased in by July next year.

 

Casual workers can now ask for a permanent position. Picture: istock.
Casual workers can now ask for a permanent position. Picture: istock.

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