Casual status determined by agreement

THE Industrial Relations Commission has recently rejected an employer company’s claim that to qualify for permanent status, casuals must first satisfy the requirements of the company’s enterprise agreement and then the requirements of the underpinning award.

A dispute arose between the employer and a union about the relationship between the enterprise agreement and the award.

The union argued that the agreement, when read in conjunction with the relevant award, provided casual employees with the right to convert to permanent employment on completion of six months employment.

The union said that all relevant employees had been engaged in excess of six months and should, therefore, be made permanent.

The employer’s perspective was that the agreement made no provision for casuals to become permanent employees by default at the end of six months.

The commission looked at the application of the agreement that provided that casual employees could work full-time ordinary hours of work for a period of up to six months without altering their casual status.

The employer argued that at the conclusion of six months, the provisions of the award apply and the casual needed to have worked continuously for two weeks as a weekly employee before become a weekly employee by default.

The commission, however, found the words ‘without altering their casual status’ meant that at the end of the period, the employee’s casual status is altered and that the employee therefore becomes a weekly or permanent employee.

The commission did not accept the argument that the agreement requires the employee to then satisfy the award requirements after already satisfying the provisions in the agreement that have replaced those of the award.

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