09 October 2018

Changes have been made to the Horticulture Award 2010, Pastoral Award 2010 and Poultry Processing Award 2010 which came into effect on 1 October 2018.

Casual conversion

Regular casual employees covered by Horticulture Award 2010, Pastoral Award 2010 and Poultry Processing Award 2010 can now request to be made permanent part-time or full-time employees.

  • A regular casual employee is a casual employee who has in the preceding period of 12 months worked a pattern of hours on an ongoing basis which, without significant adjustment, the employee could continue to perform as a full-time employee or part-time employee.
  • There is no obligation on any employee to convert or for an employee to be offered additional hours of work.
  • Requests to convert to permanent employment must be made in writing and can only be refused on reasonable business grounds.
  • Employers must respond to an employee in writing within 21 days of receiving a request to convert to permanent employment.
  • Disputes about casual conversion will be dealt with under the dispute resolution procedures of the applicable Award.

Employers should also note that they are required to provide casual employees with a copy of the casual conversation clause in the Award within the first 12 months of the employee’s first engagement to perform work.
In addition, a casual employee who was already engaged to perform work with the employer as at 1 October 2018, must be provided with a copy of the casual conversation clause under the Award by 1 January 2019.

Minimum engagement for casuals

The Fair Work Commission has also inserted the following clause into clause 10.4 of the Horticulture Award 2010:

(d)  A casual employee must be engaged and paid for at least 2 consecutive hours of work on each occasion they are required to attend work.

This means that employers covered by the Horticulture Award must now engage casual employees for a minimum of 2 hours.

Watch this space: overtime and penalty rates for casual horticulture employees

The Fair Work Commission is still taking submissions about clauses concerning overtime penalty rates for casual employees covered by the Horticulture Award 2010. The current draft proposal includes:

  • a requirement for the ordinary hours of casual employees not to exceed 304 hours over an 8-week period
  • provision that the ordinary hours of a casual employee be worked between 5.00 am and 8.30 pm on any day of the week and paid at the employee’s minimum hourly wage plus casual loading of 25%
  • in any State or Territory which does not observe daylight saving time, the capacity for an employer and a majority of employees to agree to permit the daily spread of hours to be moved forward to 4.00 am to 7.30 pm while daylight saving time is in operation in the other States and Territories
  • that the ordinary hours worked outside of the daily span of hours will attract a penalty rate of 15% in addition to the 25% casual loading
  • a maximum of 12 ordinary hours is able to be worked on any one day
  • that all time worked in excess of 12 hours per day or 304 hours over an 8-week period is overtime, and will be paid at the rate of 175% of the employee’s ordinary hourly rate of pay for his or her classification (inclusive of the casual loading)
  • that any hours worked by a casual employee on a public holiday (whether ordinary hours or overtime) will be paid at the rate of 225% of the employee’s ordinary hourly rate for his or her classification (inclusive of the casual loading).

It is expected that the changes to overtime penalty rates for casual employees covered by the Horticulture Award 2010 will be implemented in early 2019. Employers are advised to watch this space carefully for developments.

If you would like to discuss any of these changes, please our workplace health and safety team at 07 3231 2991 or wrs@cgw.com.au.

Cooper Grace Ward also has a dedicated agribusiness team with a genuine understanding of the unique needs of this sector and its supply chain – from the farm and production to marketing and sales. To find out other ways we can assist you, please visit our website.

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This publication is for information only and is not legal advice. You should obtain advice that is specific to your circumstances and not rely on this publication as legal advice. If there are any issues you would like us to advise you on arising from this publication, please let us know.