Workers on long-term casual pay awards will be given greater power under proposed changes to federal legislation.
The new regulations will allow workers to request a transition to a permanent contract after six months of consistent patterned work with an employer.
The announcement follows a decision by the Federal Court in August that granted a leave payout to a truck driver who worked long-term routine hours on a casual pay rate.
The move is intended to provide casual workers with additional job security as well as leave entitlements.
Managing director at Wagga Recruitment, Rhyley Hunter is in two minds over the decision.
“I’m not swayed either way, it’s a good and a bad thing,” he said.
Mr Hunter worries that the intention to provide greater job security to the casual workforce will promote a reduction in casual hires.
“I see it as good and bad for a lot of industries,” Mr Hunter said.
He points to the agricultural, manufacturing, and hospitality industries as pursuant to sharp fluctuations in productivity that would require a constantly changing workforce.
“You could have an employee working 25 hours a week on a casual rate for six months, then if they move to permanent those hours will need to be guaranteed each week regardless of how busy it is,” he said.
“I could make businesses not want to even casual workers in the first place. At the very least, it’s going to have to be a case-by-case situation.”
However, the changes will not impede the rights of employers to refuse a permanent role with valid reason.
Mr Hunter estimates that up to 70 per cent of the workers he sees are seeking temporary contracts and casual work arrangements. The remainder wants to fill long-term vacancies.
“I’ve seen it around [Wagga] when an employee is working up to 38 hour weeks but their employer won’t transition them to a permanent role,” he said.
“It makes it hard for the employee who wants to get a bank or home loan.”
While casual work remains preferred for many of Mr Hunter’s clients, the transition to permanent roles typically means a payment sacrifice.
“If you’re casual, you receive about a 25 per cent loading to cover what you’d otherwise have in leave,” said Mr Hunter.
“When you go to permanent, that’s cut so that you can accrue sick and annual leave.”
The revised legislation is expected to form one of the last actions of the coalition government before the May election.