Changes to Casual Employment

Changes to Casual Employment

There are important upcoming changes to the causal employment laws that significantly impact businesses and how they use casual staff in the workforce. These changes will take effect on 26 August 2024.

Below is a summary of key points employers need to consider. 

New definition of casual employee

An employee will be classified as casual if: 

  • The employment relationship is characterised by an absence of a ‘firm advance commitment to continuing and indefinite work’ and they are entitled to receive a casual loading or specific casual pay rate.

The Fair Work Commission will evaluate the ‘real substance, practical reality and true nature of the employment relationship’ along with other relevant factors to determine the classification of casual employment under the Fair Work Act. Other factors considered include: 

  • Whether the employer can offer or not offer work to the employee
  • Whether the employee can accept or reject work
  • The likelihood of future work based on the nature of the business
  • Whether there are full-time or part-time employees performing similar work
  • The employee’s regular pattern of work 

Employees who start as casuals will remain so until their status changes through a conversion process or a Fair Work Commission order or accepting and starting work under an alternative employment offer. Employees employed casually before 26 August 2024 will maintain their casual status unless they transition to permanent employment.

Fixed term contracts

Causal employees can generally be hired on fixed-term contracts, except under specific conditions: 

  • They are academic or higher education teaching staff
  • They are covered by the Higher Education Academic Staff Award or Higher Education General Staff Award
  • They are not state public sector employees 

Changing from Casual to Permanent Employment (Casual Conversion) 

Starting on 26 August 2024, a new pathway will allow eligible employees to change to permanent employment. Employees can notify their employer of their intention to change if they meet certain criteria and follow specific rules. Employers must respond to these requests within a set timeframe, either accepting or refusing based on defined criteria. 

If a dispute arises and can’t be resolved at the workplace, it can be taken to the Fair Work Commission, which will attempt informal resolution methods such as mediation or conciliation. If unresolved, the Commission can arbitrate, leading to a legally binding decision. 

The introduction of a firm advance commitment criterion, along with new pathways for casual conversion reflects a significant shift towards more clear employment practices. 

If you are an employer and require help in understanding and remaining compliant with the new regulations, our team can help businesses mitigate risks, avoid penalties and maintain smooth and compliant operations during this transition period. Please, contact Simmons Livingstone at 1800 618 800 or via email at


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