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casual work

Unions have win on casual work

Casual employees covered by modern awards will have greater access to permanent employment following a recent Fair Work Commission (FWC) decision.

In a decision issued on 5 July, the FWC determined that all modern awards should have a clause providing for casual employees to seek conversion of permanent full-time or part-time status. Unions say the decision has plugged “one small hole” in the Australian jobs market.

While casual work is not common in the telecommunications sector it is widespread in the economy as a whole, along with other forms of insecure employment.

Unions estimate that in fact some 40% of the workforce is now in insecure employment. That puts enormous pressure on wage levels across the board.

The new modern award clause is not as strong as it should be. It only applies to those who have been working as a casual in a job for at least 12 months and it provides a number of “get-out” avenues for employers.

But it marks a significant push-back against a trend that is denying millions of workers access to basic entitlements such as paid sick leave and carer’s leave and preventing them from establishing predictable income flows and work/life balance arrangements.

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