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Stay up-to-date with the latest law and policy updates impacting your not-for-profit.

New laws for casual employment

14 April 2021

The Federal Government recently passed the Fair Work Amendment (Supporting Australia's Jobs and Economic Recovery) Act 2020 (Cth) which makes changes to the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth). The changes will affect your not-for-profit organisation if you employ casual employees.

If you employ casual employees, you should review your casual employment contracts to see whether they comply with the new laws. We have summarised the major changes to the law below.

Definition of a casual employee

The new laws define a casual employee as an employee who ‘accepts an offer of employment which makes no firm advance commitment to continuing and indefinite work according to an agreed pattern of work’. This is determined at the start of the employment relationship and takes the following factors into account:

  • whether the employer can elect to offer work and the person can elect to accept or reject the work
  • whether the person will work as required by the employer
  • whether the employment is described as casual employment, and
  • whether the person will be entitled to a casual loading

A regular pattern of hours by itself is not enough for an employee to fall into the casual employee definition.

Casual Employment Information Sheet

Under the new laws, employers must provide a Casual Employment Information Sheet to a casual employee at the start of the casual employee’s employment.

Casual conversion

The new laws also introduce a clearer process for casual employees to convert to part or full-time employment. However, the casual conversion provisions apply differently to small business employers – a small business employer is defined as an employer which ‘employs fewer than 15 employees at a time’.

Casual employees of small business employers have a right to request a casual conversion where they have been employed for 12 months, and have worked regular hours on an ongoing basis for at least the last six months. An employer can only refuse the request on reasonable grounds.

This can include: 

  • the employer would be required to significantly adjust the employee’s hours to fit part or full-time employment,
  • the employee’s hours of work will be significantly reduced in the following 12 months after the request, and
  • the employee’s position will cease to exist 12 months after the request

The employer must respond to the employee’s request within 21 days. However, unlike other employers, small business employers are not required to offer to convert a casual employee to a part or full-time position after 12 months.


Finally, the new laws introduce offsetting provisions targeting employees who are employed as part or full-time employees who are found to be casual employees. If this is found to be the case, an employer may be able to offset casual payments the employee is entitled to with employment entitlements the employee accrued in their part or full-time employment. This applies to employment entitlements accrued and periods of employment before the new laws came into effect, and to claims brought by former and current employees.

For more information about these changes to the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth), see the Fair Work Ombudsman media release.

Take a look at our resources on managing employees for more information.