FAIR WORK REVIEW: How does the Fair Work Commission review help you, the truck driver?
FAIR WORK REVIEW: How does the Fair Work Commission review help you, the truck driver? Kirstin Payne

Fair work's fair go for our casual truckies

IN ITS most recent four-yearly review of the employment awards, the Fair Work Commission has gone into bat for casually employed truck drivers.

The FWC has put business owners on notice that, from October 1, 2018, casually employed truck drivers may convert to permanent employment, provided they have:

12 months continuous employment with the company, and

Worked a consistent pattern of hours without significant change

Those who have consistently worked on average less than 38 hours a week may go "part-time” whilst those who work more may elect to go "full-time”.

It is important to note these changes are aimed towards those who drive, for example, 12 hours from A-B each Monday and returns B-A each Tuesday every week, not the occasional tow truck driver who is called when required.

The following is some information about how this FWC decision may affect the casual driver and the boss.

The casual driver

There are many personal and circumstantial factors that will need to be balanced before deciding to convert.

We suggest the following may sway some "for” and "against” converting from casual to permanent employment as a truck driver.

For converting

Guaranteed minimum hours and salary payments

Permanent positions provide better job security - including options to review decisions to the FWC (e.g. a claim for unfair dismissal)

Fixed paid annual leave, leave loading and personal leave/carers' leave days (more time with the family - which is paid)

Against converting

Casual staff traditionally get a higher base wage than those in permanent positions

Casual staff also have more flexible hours

Casual staff may also be entitled up to 25 per cent "loading and unloading” allowance which is generally higher than permanent staff

It is important to note you may transfer to a permanent position, but it is your choice.

The boss

If you are the boss, you may only refuse to allow the conversion in special cases, which may include (but are not limited to) the following examples:

The driver is not in a fair dinkum pattern of casual driving

It is foreseeable that the position will cease to exist within the next year, or

The casual hours will likely drop significantly in the next 12 months

Any refusal must be in writing within 21 days of the request to transfer, and that decision may be reviewed by the FWC.

The FWC anticipated there might be some employers who attempt to circumvent these rules and has made a specific guideline that staff cannot be laid off, or have their usual hours reduced to avoid changes from triggering.

The FWC decision also forces employers to provide all casual staff with a copy of these amendments to the Awards (regardless of whether they work fixed hours).

To convert your employment from casual to permanent, you are required to comply with your specific award and are generally required to put the notice in writing. It is always safer to have these conversations in writing, but if you do have a conversation, make notes about what was said, the time and the location of the conversation, and who was present.

Whether you are the boss or a staff member, you simply never know when these things will turn sour.

Finally, remember, one size does not fit all. If you need any more information about these changes, contact the FWC or get tailored independent legal advice.

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