Fair Work changes for part-time ‘casuals’ and family friendly workplace requirements

During the last quarter of 2018 Fairwork decisions resulted in updated regulations for small business. The body continues to adjudicate for workers rights while balancing the burden on small business. The decisions relating to misclassified casuals claiming for part time entitlements and for family friendly workplace requirements are important changes for workplaces.

Most workplaces will make allowances for specific employee circumstances. With changes announced in October, FairWork have now clarified that employers must make reasonable effort to accomodate the specific needs of their employees in relation to family friendly working arrangements. From our reading of the change it seems that employees are now within their rights to ask that a workplace accommodates their needs. The business owner must consider it and show reasonable cause why it cannot be accommodated. Seek advice if you believe this applies to your workplace.

There has been considerable press around unpaid entitlements. Arising from the Workpak vs Scene 2018 case, the government changed the Fair work relations bill to assist businesses that face the issue of unpaid entitlements arising from the specific case where a permanent part time has been misclassified as a casual. The case is quite specific but from our reading of their announcement it looks to be that employees may have been employed as casuals and paid to that effect, but have been rostered as permanent part time. In this case they would be able to claim for back payment for the entitlements under the National Employment Standards (NES). The government has said that casual loading amounts can be used to offset those payments. If you believe this may apply to your workplace, please speak to your advisors.

These two announcements show how the balance of workers rights and business impacts is delicate. Family friendly working arrangements address the stress of juggling home and work life. The use of casual loadings to offset against claimable entitlements limits business liability. These two examples show the balancing act that FairWork and the government have to manage.

This post is not advice, and cannot be relied upon with respect to the interpretation of Australian Law. Please contact your advisors if the information in the post may apply to you or your workplace.