In Payroll & Employment by Clyde Mooney

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The Fair Work Commission has today ruled in favour of greater flexibility for part-time employment that could see more people in hospitality engaged part-time rather than casual.

The Fair Work Commission (FWC) released the Decision Summaries as part of its 4-yearly review of modern awards.

The Summary made specific mention of the hospitality sector, citing industry submissions on the Hospitality Industry (General) Award 2010 that the existing provisions for part-time employment, which required ordinary hours to be fixed at the commencement of employment, are “unworkable” and rarely utilised due to “insufficient flexibility”.

This has contributed to the ‘casualisation’ of the sector with few people being employed part-time, even though employers have signalled their preference.

In its conclusion, the FWC noted intention to not depart from the fundamental notion of the protections to part-time workers, that employment must carry a “degree of regularity and certainty” and it should be “akin to full-time employment in all respects except … hours are fewer than 38”.

But the FWC went on to note that the ‘degree of regularity and certainty’ must bear an appropriate relationship to the relevant industry, and that predictable hours of work were not the norm in hospitality – even for full-time staff.

The Commission determined that the current provision in the Hospitality Award does not provide a workable model for regulation of part-time employment in that sector.

This was in line with the submission by the AHA, believed to be in the interests of both employee and employer.

“The FWC found that the current part-time provision was close to being a ‘dead letter’ and unworkable,” said AHA CEO Stephen Ferguson, welcoming the FWC news.

“We proposed a more flexible system which contained appropriate safeguards for workers, including guaranteed hours, same days off and overtime measures.

“This decision by the independent umpire will bring benefits to workers including more certainty, regular employment and the capacity to apply for loans and mortgages.”