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Groundbreaking change for 850,000 Aussie workers

The reforms will give casual workers a new path to find permanent employment.

Australian currency and workers in a cafe.
Casual workers will soon get the choice to become full-time. (Source: Getty)

Hundreds of thousands of Aussie workers will soon be given a new pathway to full-time employment under new government reforms.

Employment and Workplace Relations Minister Tony Burke confirmed the government would be changing the definition of who was classified as a casual worker.

Burke said the reforms would close a loophole that allowed some employers to “double-dip” by treating casual workers like permanent employees without giving them the same entitlements.

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Out of the 2.7 million Aussies who had casual work, the government estimated around 850,000 were working full-time hours without entitlements like paid sick leave and annual leave.

How would the reforms work?

Burke said those Aussies working full-time hours on a casual contract would have the option to go full-time.

Those who prefer the flexibility, and the casual loading, will have the option to stay on their casual contract.

Is anyone against the change?

Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry CEO Andrew McKellar said the new test would result in a new level of uncertainty.

“These reforms could result in greater costs for business and less certainty for employees,” McKeller told the ABC.

“There’s a very clear test at the moment as to whether someone is a casual employee, whether they should remain a casual employee, that’s been established by the High Court and, in legislation, that provides certainty for both business and for employees.”

What defines a casual employee?

The Fair Work Ombudsman says a casual employee is defined as:

  • Someone who is offered a job

  • The job offer does not include a firm advance commitment that the work will continue indefinitely with an agreed pattern of work

  • They accept the offer knowing there is no firm advance commitment

“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, that could mean they are casual,” the Fair Work Ombudsman said.

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