Casual workers win right to request permanent role

By Nick Hall | 02 Oct 2018 View comments

Following a landmark decision at the Fair Work Commission on Friday that saw a boost of their penalty rates, casual retail workers have once again been buoyed by new legislation.

As of this week, casual workers have been granted the right to request a move into permanent employment, a decision that retail, fast-food and warehousing union, the SDA says will help bridge the gap in Australia’s volatile work environment.

The latest update allows casuals who have at least 12 months of continuous service and who work a regular pattern of hours to apply for their position to be made permanent.

Gerard Dwyer, SDA national secretary said the Fair Work Commission ruling presents casual workers with a clear path to meaningful employment in an otherwise insecure economic landscape.

“This creates a pathway to permanent work for those who haven’t had that option in the past,” Dwyer said.

“For too long some businesses have used casual work as a substitute for decent secure jobs at the expense workers and their families.”

The ruling means that employers must genuinely consider a worker’s request to become permanent, and are only allowed to refuse the request “on reasonable grounds and after there has been consultation with the employee”.

Dwyer believes the renewed focus on casual employee rights marks a significant step forward for workers in pivotal industries currently gearing up for a period.

“We’re talking about industries such as retail and fast-food where workers are often living week to week. Having the ability to ask to become permanent and receive the benefits that come along with that is going make the world of difference to many workers,” Dwyer said.

“Permanent work guarantees workers access to paid sick leave and paid annual leave and removes the very real risk of employers cutting shifts at the last minute, which obviously has a huge impact on people’s ability to plan their lives and manage their finances.”

On Friday, the Fair Work Commission’s decision to boost penalty rates for casual retail staff was endorsed strongly by the SDA, however Dominique Lamb, CEO of the National Retail Association said the move had widespread industry implications.

“Many retailers across the country have been confronting an extraordinarily challenging period throughout 2018, which has been reflected in the latest ABS release for retail sales,” Lamb said.

“Small retailers in particular are already struggling with soaring electricity costs and increasing wholesale prices.The retail sector is about to enter its busiest part of the year – the Christmas trade period – and the last thing they need is to be hamstrung with further costs.”