The Fair Work Com­mis­sion Kicks Off Review of Casu­al Terms in Mod­ern Awards

The Fair Work Com­mis­sion has today issued direc­tions pro­gram­ming its approach to review­ing and vary­ing mod­ern awards in light of amend­ments to the pas­sage of the Fair Work Amend­ment (Sup­port­ing Aus­trali­a’s Jobs and Eco­nom­ic Recov­ery) Act 2021. The FWC has until 27 Sep­tem­ber 2021 to con­sid­er whether a rel­e­vant term” in a mod­ern award, as it relates to casu­al employ­ees, is con­sis­tent with a new def­i­n­i­tion of casu­al employ­ee and casu­al con­ver­sion pro­vi­sions that have been insert­ed into the Fair Work Act 2009 (the Casu­al Review).

Where review of a rel­e­vant term finds an incon­sis­ten­cy, the FWC must make a deter­mi­na­tion vary­ing the mod­ern award as soon as is rea­son­ably practicable.

In a State­ment issued on 9 April, the Pres­i­dent of the FWC con­firmed the Casu­al Review will be con­duct­ed in two stages.

In the first stage, a five mem­ber Full Bench will con­sid­er the nature and scope of the Casu­al Review and review rel­e­vant terms in the:

  • Gen­er­al Retail Indus­try Award 2020;
  • Hos­pi­tal­i­ty Indus­try (Gen­er­al) Award 2020;
  • Man­u­fac­tur­ing and Asso­ci­at­ed Indus­tries and Occu­pa­tions Award 2020;
  • Edu­ca­tion­al Ser­vices (Teach­ers) Award 2020;
  • Pas­toral Award 2020; and
  • Fire Fight­ing Indus­try Award 2020.

Dur­ing a con­fer­ence on 15 April, the Pres­i­dent indi­cat­ed those awards had been select­ed because they give rise to the broad­er spread of issues that might be com­mon in a range of oth­er awards. 

The Pres­i­dent indi­cat­ed in the 9 April State­ment that issues raised by the review of this ini­tial group of awards are like­ly to include:

  • Whether exist­ing award def­i­n­i­tions of casu­al employ­ee” or casu­al employ­ment” should be retained or replaced with the new statu­to­ry definition;
  • Whether mod­el or award-spe­cif­ic casu­al con­ver­sion claus­es should be retained or replaced with the new casu­al con­ver­sion provisions;
  • What types of rel­e­vant terms” that relate to casu­al employ­ment in mod­ern awards must be con­sid­ered as part of the Casu­al Review; and
  • The impli­ca­tions of award vari­a­tions for exist­ing employ­ment arrangements.

The Pres­i­dent has indi­cat­ed that after its review of the ini­tial group of awards, the 5 mem­ber Full Bench will issue a deci­sion and deter­mine the process for the sec­ond stage of the Casu­al Review, dur­ing which the remain­ing mod­ern awards will be divid­ed into groups for review by a 3 mem­ber Full Bench.

The FWC has con­firmed that inter­est­ed par­ties are to file sub­mis­sions by 24 May 2021 respond­ing to a dis­cus­sion paper released by the FWC on 19 April. That paper pro­vides ini­tial com­men­tary and rais­es ques­tions in respect of casu­al terms in the six mod­ern awards the sub­ject of the first stage of the Casu­al Review. A hear­ing has been list­ed for 24 and 25 June 2021.

We will mon­i­tor devel­op­ments in this space close­ly, and will pro­vide updates on the Casu­al Review as and when they occur.