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Get ready for changes to casual and part-time entitlements

Changes to overtime rates and shift entitlements for casual and part-time employees covered by some Modern Awards will come into operation on 1 January 2018 and take effect from the first full pay period of the new year. These changes give effect to the decision of the Fair Work Commission on 5 July 2017 concerning part-time and casual employment issues, which were examined as part of the 4-yearly Award review.

Casual entitlement to overtime pay

A significant change is that casual employees will be entitled to overtime pay for each hour worked in excess of ordinary hours. Ordinary hours are determined with reference to the ‘hours of work’ provisions in the applicable Modern Award. Casual employees, whether they are ‘irregular casual employees’ or casuals working on a ‘regular and systematic’ basis, will be entitled to overtime pay if they work in excess of 38 hours per week, or more than the maximum span of ordinary hours on any given day. When calculating overtime rates for casuals, the employee’s base rate (excluding casual loading) should be used.

These changes will affect employees covered by the following Modern Awards:

  • Fast Food Industry Award 2010
  • Hair and Beauty Industry Award 2010
  • Hospitality Industry (General) Award 2010
  • Registered and Licensed Clubs Award 2010
  • Restaurant Industry Award 2010
  • General Retail Industry Award 2010

Greater flexibility when rostering part-time employees

Part-time employees covered by some Modern Awards will now be allowed to have ‘guaranteed hours’ over the span of a roster cycle or week. Currently, employers covered by the Awards listed below are required to fix defined shifts each week or roster cycle, specifying the days and hours worked. The change is that employers will instead be able to provide a guaranteed number of hours, and the days and times when these hours may be worked can change each rostering period.

Part-time employees must submit their availability to their employer, so that the employer may roster them within the scope of their availability.

Where a part-time employee has regularly worked additional hours to their guaranteed hours over a 12-month period, they may request that their employer increases their guaranteed hours. Employers may only refuse this request on reasonable business grounds.

These changes will affect the following Modern Awards:

  • Hospitality Industry (General) Award 2010
  • Registered and Licensed Clubs Award 2010
  • Restaurant Industry Award 2010

Moreover, under the Social, Community, Home Care and Disability Services Award 2010, part-time rosters will no longer be required to provide for the same, guaranteed amount of hours each week. Instead, employers and employees may agree to different hours being worked each week of the roster cycle. One hours are agreed, any variations may be made, in writing, and effective for a specified period of time or on an ongoing basis.

Minimum period of engagement rules
Changes to minimum period of engagement rules in limited circumstances under some Awards will also take effect. Specifically:

Under the Passenger Vehicle Award 2010, school bus drivers transporting students to and from school will now be able to be rostered for 1 or 2 shifts per day, with each shift lasting for a minimum of 2 hours.

The Pastoral Award 2010 will contain a new provision allowing for a 2-hour minimum engagement for dairy operators 18 years or younger who are full-time secondary students.

The minimum period of engagement for a casual employee covered by the Wine Industry Award 2010 doing pruning or harvesting work during unexpected wet weather will be 2 hours (reduced from 4 hours).

Key takeaways
If you operate in an industry covered by one of the Awards affected by changes to casual overtime rates, you should ensure that you update your payroll systems to make sure casuals are paid overtime where they are now entitled to it.

If you are covered by the industries affected by the changes to part-time rostering provisions, you can take advantage of the increased flexibility when planning your rosters for the new year. Now is the time to have conversations with your employees about the business requirements and the need for greater flexibility (if applicable), as well as seek feedback about employee’s availability.

Finally, if you operate in an industry covered by changes to minimum period of engagement rules, it is important to familiarise yourself with the changes so you are sure you are compliant if and when circumstances crop up where these provisions become relevant.