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Casual employment explained

Julianne Leybag
17 August 2017 3 minute readShare
employees, casual employment, people walking

With the rise of casual workers being employed across Australia, there are a big number of business owners still unfamiliar with casual employment. Read on as My Business discusses the basics of casual employment and casual staff rights.

There are a lot of things business owners must learn regarding casual employment. Aside from knowing how to employ casual staff, how to pay casual staff, and even avoid redundancy on casual staff, business owners must also orient themselves to the benefits of and other required casual employment conditions.

Some of the most important casual employment elements that must be understood by business owners are:

  • Casual employment defined
  • Payment rates
  • Leave entitlements and other benefits
  • Allowances/penalties
  • Can casual workers become permanent workers?

Casual employment defined

The Fair Work Act of Australia has no written definition of the term casual work. To put it simply, casual employment can be defined as workers employed on a “shift-to-shift-basis” and are only paid for the number of hours worked.

Since casual employees work on a shift-to-shift-basis, they are given separate contracts on a period-to-period basis ranging from weekly up to semiannually. Due to this limitation, casual employees are also not entitled to continuous employment within a single company or business. This means that there is no security of tenure and that workers risk termination without prior notice whenever they are employed casually.

Payment rates

The pay rates of casual workers may vary depending on the contract or award which covers their employment. Of course, this means that casual employees must be paid at least the minimum wage and wages usually don’t go any lower than two hours’ worth of pay.

Casual workers are also entitled to casual loading, an additional per-hour pay paid to casual employees on top of their daily pay. Casual workers are entitled to their permanent per-hour rate plus 15 to 25 per cent of the said hourly rate.

Business owners must always inform casual employees of their employment status before the actual work starts. If an employee has no idea whether they are employed as a casual or a permanent employee, they are encouraged to ask their employers immediately. Failure to inform workers of their employment status could lead to serious legal repercussions for the business.

Leave entitlements and other benefits

Casual employees, like any other type of employee, are entitled to various rights as protected by the Australian labour laws. However, casual employees are not entitled to paid sick leaves, vacation leaves and holiday pay. Casual workers are thus filed under the “no work, no pay” employment status and have casual loadings in addition to their daily pay.

If a casual worker worked in the same shift in the same business for at least 12 months, they may be entitled to 12 months of unpaid parental leave. They are also entitled to a long service leave, whose length depends on the award or agreement covering their employment.

Lastly, casual workers are also entitled to superannuation payments from their employers if they earn more than $450 a month and are older than 18 years old or under 18 but working more than 30 hours a week.


Again, there is no national standard regarding allowances and/or penalties for casual workers. However, most casual work agreements state that casual employees are entitled to receive penalty payments for work done during the weekends and evenings, are allowed to enjoy the same rest breaks as regular workers and are entitled to a set minimum of shifting hours.

Can casual workers become permanent workers?

The conditions covering the conversion of casual workers to permanent workers vary depending on the award or agreement covering the workers.

Awards and agreements are required as a permanent conversion condition by casual workers to achieve permanent working status. These permanent work conversion conditions state that if a casual employee had worked for the business within a set minimum period, they may be eligible to request for a change of status from casual to permanent employment. Also, if a casual employee had worked on regular shifts in a singular job for an extended period of time, they are entitled to request for an employment status conversion.

However, employers have the sole discretion to reject requests for status changes if they find reasonable rejection grounds.

Both employers and employees are encouraged to seek the advice of an employment professional to become acquainted with their rights as a business owner and employee.

Casual employment explained
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Julianne Leybag

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