A casual employee at a big four bank has alleged parts of the financial sector are “gaming the system” to ensure people can’t take up permanent work.
The Commonwealth Bank of Australia employee anonymously gave evidence to senators on Wednesday as part of an inquiry into job security in Australia.
The employee said minor changes to rostered start and finish times ensured casuals did not qualify for conversion to a permanent position because they did not work a regular pattern of hours required under Fair Work law.
They said this happened despite the workloads staying the same each month.
“Everyone is given the exact same reason as to why they will not be converted and that is they have not worked a consistent pattern of hours,” the employee said.
CBA management representative Andrew Culleton said he was distressed to hear the experiences of his colleague.
He said eligibility for a casual employee’s conversion to a permanent role was not based on start and finish times.
“We look at two things, the hours worked in a day … and the pattern worked in a week and we allow for a 25 per cent deviation,” he said.
Finance Sector Union (FSU) representatives told senators flaws in Fair Work law regarding the casual conversion process meant many casual finance workers found themselves stuck in insecure work.
FSU national policy officer Angela Budai said casual workers make up just three per cent of staff at the big four banks but still account for around 500 employees at each bank.
Ms Budai said in a recent round of contract reviews undertaken by CBA, just 38 of 312 casuals were offered permanent roles and only four people accepted the offers.
She said those who are given permanent offers often find the remuneration is so unattractive they choose to remain casual.
“This is a deliberate strategy taken by employers to both depress wages and circumvent their obligations to provide secure work,” she said.
Mr Culleton acknowledged labour hire employees earned on average 7.5 per cent more than CBA’s permanent employees doing the same job.
But he said in the past 12 months, CBA had a 22 per cent conversion rate and the figures quoted by FSU were from a separate review undertaken as part of the bank’s obligation to Fair Work laws.
“Our preference is for our employees to be permanent,” he said.
The inquiry is due to report back to parliament by February 2022.
Australian Associated Press