HR Tips & Answers

Who actually is a casual employee?

In business it is often difficult to manage the correct number of staff required all of the time.

This is where casual employees are really helpful.  They are employed to come in on as a required basis, often at short notice and often for short periods of time.

Due to the ad hoc nature of their employment, employers have to pay them a minimum number of hours, typically two or three hours per engagement.  As they are not permanent employees, they don’t have entitlements such as annual or personal leave accruing so they get paid an extra pay loading to offset those entitlements.

For many, casual employment has its benefits, allowing them to choose when they work and where they work.

There are some difficulties with this type of employment too…

Employers will often find that they need to have a number of casuals that they can ring to get the right amount of people on the ground when they are needed and it’s often difficult to find the right skill set to meet your needs.

For casual employees it can sometime be difficult to get enough work to make ends meet, especially if they are working around family or caring responsibilities or have specific or limited skill set.

However, we often find out that a casual is used to regularly, often because they have a great skill set or attitude and over time, they become entrenched into the business.  The number of time’s I hear the term, “permanent casual”. This is fraught with possible danger. If you have a person on your books who is getting regular weekly shifts, you should consider your and their options.

Let’s be clear, a true casual employee may be permanently on your books, but they should not have an expectation of work, or be rostered regularly to work.  The requirement for them to get work with you should be ad hoc. EG. An employee is taking leave, so you bring a casual in to cover for the time that the employee is away, or someone rings in sick and you bring in a casual employee to cover.

There is a lot of discussion around casual employees, regarding the definition of a casual.  There have been cases which have turned this definition on its head and may have opened the door for casuals to consider making a claim for entitlement such as annual leave.

You should also be aware that the casuals clause in many Industrial Awards were updated and commenced on 20 November 2020.

  • So, let’s keep it simple for the moment, if you are truly using a casual in an ad hoc manner similar to my examples above…this is what casual employees are for.
  • If you have a “permanent casual” you do need to talk with us regarding your options
  • And If we have raised any concerns give us a call and we can work through your situation together.

Remember we are here to help so call us on (02) 60 09 1000


The WorkBetter Team

Published: Monday, May 17th, 2021

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