We’ve recently received calls asking for clarification about reducing casual employee hours.
Enquiries we’ve received have been less about cancelling a single casual shift when things are quiet and more about making more permanent changes when casual employees have been working a regular weekly roster.
It’s a topic worth a short blog so let’s start with some key background info…
Full-time and part-time employees have an advance commitment to ongoing employment. They can expect to work regular hours each week.
In contrast, a person is a casual employee if they accept a job offer knowing that there is no firm advance commitment to ongoing work with an agreed pattern of work.
For example, if an employee is employed as casual, their roster changes each week to suit their employer’s needs, and they can refuse or swap shifts, it could mean they are a casual worker.
Under the Fair Work Act, a person is a casual employee if:
Given casual employees have no reasonable expectation for ongoing and regular work, an employer has the right to reduce a casual’s hours without receiving the permission of the employee. The exception to the employer’s unilateral right is when an employee is considered to be a “long-term casual employee”.
A long-term casual is an employee who, over a calendar period of at least 12 months, has worked a pattern of hours on an ongoing basis and could perform the same work as a permanent employee without a significant adjustment being required.
Reducing the hours of a long-term casual employee may require the employer to undertake similar steps as they would if changing the rosters or hours of work of a full-time or part-time employee. Such steps may include following the Consultation obligations under the applicable Award.
A decision by an employer to reduce the hours of a casual employee without following the T&C’s of the applicable Award and/or the workers’ Employment Agreement can constitute a breach of contract.
Therefore, a termination of employment at the initiative of the employer, exposes the employer to the risk of responding to an unfair dismissal application.
Generally, reducing any employee’s hours of work should be done with caution.
When it comes to casual employees, you should make sure that you:
Bare Bones Consulting specialises in providing the right HR documents and processes for your business.
Employment Agreements for any status of employment – full-time, part-time or casual – don’t necessarily have to be complex or wordy; they simply need to contain wording that aligns with current employment legislation as well as content that meets your business needs.
A small investment in the right HR function delivers a high return…and what business owner wouldn’t see the logic in that?
Give Bare Bones Consulting a call to discuss our range of HR services to help your business succeed.
Even if you elect to not proceed after our first complimentary consultation you’ll be in a better position to know what’s possible.
We believe our approach to HR is unique... but then again, so is your business.