Labor to offer better protections for casual workers

| April 24, 2019

A Shorten Labor Government will get historically low wages moving again by acting on job security if it is elected in May.

Labor will legislate to allow workers the right to request permanent part-time or full-time employment after 12 months with the same employer.

Too many Australians are employed as casuals with no clear prospect of a permanent position and endless job insecurity.

Too often, long-term casual work is used as a mechanism to pay workers less, deprive them of leave, and make them easier to sack.

In Australia, 2.6 million workers are considered casual – that’s one in four workers who are not entitled to paid leave. More than half of them have been with their employer for more than 12 months (59 per cent) and 192,000 workers have been with their current employer for more than 10 years.

While some people like the flexibility that casual work provides, for others it has become a constant worry: never knowing what it’s like to have a paid sick day or paid holiday.

For these workers it’s tough to pay the rent or the mortgage and the bills, let alone make longer-term decisions like taking out a car loan or buying their own home.

That is why we will give long-term casuals the right to request permanent part-time or full-time employment after 12 months.

Labor will also provide workers with a right to challenge an employer who unreasonably refuses such a request.

Currently, there is no obligation for an employer to convert a worker to a permanent arrangement, and the Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison Government has failed to act, denying there is a problem.

Labor’s policy builds on a recent decision of the Fair Work Commission, which provides a right for casual employees on modern awards to request to convert to part-time or full-time employment if they have worked a regular pattern of hours on an ongoing basis in the previous 12 months.

Labor has previously committed to clearly define “casual” work – so employers and workers know with certainty whether a worker is really a “casual”.

Labor’s policy on casuals will help to get wages moving again, together with Labor’s plans to:

  • Reverse the cuts to penalty rates.
  • Protect Australians from unfair labour hire.
  • Raise the floor on wages.