Leave entitlements for casual employees
Under the National Employment Standards, a casual employee is not entitled to paid annual leave, personal/carer’s leave, jury service, or the minimum periods of notice of termination by the employer. However, a casual employee employed on a regular and systematic basis may be entitled to unpaid parental leave and may be eligible to make an unfair dismissal claim.
Under the Standards, a casual employee also has an entitlement to unpaid compassionate leave and unpaid carer’s leave, as well as an entitlement to paid long service leave under the relevant state or territory long service leave statute.
A casual employee’s entitlement to a meal break is subject to the provisions of the relevant modern award. Usually, an employee cannot work more than five continuous hours without having a meal break, although some awards allow a maximum of six hours in certain circumstances. eal breaks may also be changed by agreement, under the individual flexibility agreement provisions of the applicable modern award.
Casual loading entitlements
Most modern awards provide for the payment of a loading to casual employees. The ‘standard’ casual loading is 25%. The loading generally is not considered a ‘penalty rate’ because the benefits for which a casual is compensated include entitlements such as annual leave, personal/carer’s leave and public holidays.
As a general rule in modern awards, where penalties apply, the penalties and the casual loading are both to be calculated on the employee’s ordinary time rate. See Award Modernisation Decision — Priority Awards  AIRCFB 1000 (19 December 2008). For example, a modern award that provides a casual loading of 25% and a penalty rate for work on a public holiday of double time and a half (250%) would receive an ‘all-up’ casual rate for public holiday work of 275%.
Reference should be made to the applicable modern award or enterprise agreement to determine whether a penalty is calculated on the casual hourly rate, rather than the ordinary rate. For example, the Manufacturing and Associated Industries and Occupations Award 2010 provides that the casual loading is ‘payable for all purposes of the award’. This means any penalty prescribed by the award is calculated on the loaded casual hourly rate. See here.