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Hair & Beauty Australia Industry Association


Posted July 24, 2017

The Fair Work Commission has made a landmark decision which will give casual employees covered by an additional 85 workplace awards the right to request permanent work after being employed for 12 months.

In its decision, the Fair Work Commission (FWC) said as long as the casual employment was “long-term in nature, and to be of sufficient regularity”, it considered it to be “fair and necessary for the employee to have access to a mechanism by which the casual employment may be converted to an appropriate form of permanent employment” 

Many of the demands made by the unions to the FWC have been rejected, including the change of minimum employment hours from 3 to 4. “This is important because the unions’ claims, if they had been accepted, would have wreaked havoc on Australia’s labour market,” Innes Willox, Chief Executive of the Australian Industry Group said. A change of this nature would have actually hurt the people that the unions are trying to protect – many casuals would suffer or be unable to accept shifts longer than 3 hours as they juggle commitments of family, other positions and life around these shifts.

It is important to note that the team from AI Group specifically requested a clause to be included in the award that states: 

a conversion may be refused on the grounds that it would require a significant adjustment to the casual employee’s hours of work to accommodate them in full-time or part-time employment in accordance with the terms of the applicable modern award, or it is known or reasonably foreseeable that the casual employee’s position will cease to exist, or the employee’s hours of work will significantly change or be reduced within the next 12 months, or on other reasonable grounds based on facts which are known or reasonably foreseeable.”


In laymen’s terms, if employing a casual member of staff would be unreasonable for your business, by reasons of cost or workload, you do not need to accept the request. This protects salon owners from legal action and ensures that their staffing needs are met without major risk to the business itself.

 “In the case, which continued for over two years, the unions were seeking an absolute right for casuals to be converted to permanent employment after six months of regular work, and for a standard four-hour minimum engagement period for casuals and part-timers. Ai Group played the leading role in representing employers in the case and strongly opposed these claims. If the unions’ claims had been accepted, the jobs of thousands of casual employees were at risk.” Says Willcox.

The decision will reduce flexibility for some employers in some industries, who through these requests may be required to put on additional staff – however it is excellent to see that most of the more outrageous claims made by unions were rejected. These kinds of casual conversion provisions are common in modern awards, particularly in the construction and building industries.

“For years, the unions have been making bogus claims about an alleged ‘casualisation’ of the Australian workforce. They have made these claims so many times now that unfortunately some people have started to believe them. ABS statistics show that the level of casual employment in Australia is the same today as it was in 1998 – about 20% of the workforce. The level of casual employment in Australia has been around 20% for 19 years, with no sign of the level increasing. Union arguments about the ‘casualisation’ of the Australian workforce are a myth.

“Even though the Commission’s decision did not favour employers in all respects, importantly the unions’ most damaging claims have been rejected,” Mr. Willox said.

HABA and AI Group work together to review policy and changes to legal requirements as part of a team working together to create the best possible outcomes for salon owners and the hair and beauty industry as a whole. Through our joint intimate knowledge of the award and the industry, we can best advise, propose and counter propose changes to the law that will benefit the industry and ensure that salon owners are not out of pocket and are not disadvantaged as much as possible. To be frank, this is where your membership fees to HABA goes – in protecting salon owners and HABA members from a lack of representation in these key decisions, ensuring that your best interests are represented at all level of legal change and government. Join HABA today and protect our industry from changes that will put salon owners at risk.


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