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Casual vs. permanent part-time: What it means for your workplace rights

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Whether you’re searching for a new casual job or experiencing problems at your current workplace, understanding what your employment status means is critical for protecting your rights at work. Your entitlements change depending on your type of employment, so it’s important to be aware exactly what it means to be a part-time or casual worker.

Part-time workers

A permanent part-time employee is someone who works regular and ongoing hours, but fewer hours a week than someone working full-time.

Generally, you’ll be a part-time employee if:

  • You work less than 38 hours a week
  • You have a regular pattern of hours, or
  • You’re a permanent employee or on a fixed-term contract.

Part-time employees are granted entitlements such as annual leave, sick leave and carers leave on a pro-rata basis according to their hours worked. Unlike casual employees, part-time workers are also guaranteed ongoing employment (or a fixed-term contract) and must give or receive notice to end their employment.

Click here for more information on your rights and entitlements in resignation.

Casual workers

Although there’s no definition of ‘casual’ in Australia’s employment legislation, it’s generally assumed to mean someone who works as required by their employer. This means casual employees aren’t guaranteed regular hours or ongoing employment, and are instead retained on an ‘as needs’ basis.

Generally, you’ll be a casual employee if:

  • You don’t have weekly guaranteed hours
  • You usually work irregular hours, and
  • You don’t receive sick leave or annual leave.

Generally, casual employees aren’t entitled to a minimum period of notice prior to termination. So if you’re casual, you can be fired or quit without giving notice.

Instead of the usual entitlements of full and part-time employees, casual workers are entitled to receive a higher rate of pay. This is sometimes referred to as ‘casual loading’, and effectively compensates casual workers for not having benefits such as holiday entitlements and sick leave.

Importantly, a casual employee can change to full-time or part-time employment at any time if the employer offers it, and the employee agrees. Some Modern Awards include casual conversion clauses where casual employees can apply to be converted to permanent employment.

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After 12 months of regular and systematic employment, and if there’s a reasonable expectation that this will continue, a long term casual employee can also:

Shine Lawyers – Your employment law experts

Understanding your rights and entitlements as an employee can be difficult.

At Shine Lawyers, we have a specialist team of employment lawyers who can assess your situation, and provide individually tailored legal solutions to resolve your workplace dispute. If you’re experiencing difficulties in your place of work, get in touch and start your claim today.

Written by Shine Lawyers on . Last modified: March 13, 2018.

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  • Jon Holmes wrote:

    Interesting comments regarding casual work – How about an Agency labor hire casual supplied to the host as a casual over an unbroken period of 10 years with ongoing work and expected by the host to be “At work” 5 days a week all year over this period?
    If the question of whether the labor hire was permanent or casual ever arose, who would the onus of permanency be with – the Agency or the host?

    • Shine Lawyers wrote:

      Hi Jon, that is actually a very complicated question. The onus would be on the employee to establish that the arrangement was permanent and not casual. In looking at whether an employee is part-time or casual, the Fair Work Commission has recently held that the appropriate starting point is to look at the relevant modern award and look at how that instrument describes what part-time and casual employment is. This has resulted in a willingness to uphold long standing casual employment relationships where the terms of engagement fit the description of a casual employee under the Award. If you’d like to get some tailored advice from our employment law experts, you can find our contact details here: ~Steph

  • George jacimovic wrote:

    my daughter is permanent part time 25h per week she gets leave loading also now the firm wishes to change her to part time employment with same weekly pay scale does this affect her leave loading

    • Shine Lawyers wrote:

      Thank you for reaching out to us with your question. Your daughter can contact our New Client Team who will be able to provide more information on the services we offer and let her know if we can help. Contact details are here:

  • Heidi Britz wrote:

    I am employed as a “casual” employee, I work 37 hours a week, 5 days a week, set starting and finishing times for almost 6 years. Have asked to be made a permanent staff member but have always been told that they don’t. Our award clearly states that

    10.4 Casual employment

    (a) A casual employee means an employee who is engaged intermittently by the hour for work of an unexpected or casual nature and does not include an employee who could properly be engaged as a full-time, part-time or sessional employee.

    (b) An employee engaged as a casual employee will be engaged for a minimum period of two consecutive hours per engagement.

    (c) A casual employee will be paid for each hour worked during the ordinary hours of work provided in clause 21—Ordinary hours of work, a rate equal to 1/38th of the weekly rate appropriate to the employee’s classification. In addition, a loading of 25% of that rate will be paid.

    [10.4(d) varied by PR528941 ppc 28Sep12]

    (d) Where a casual employee is employed outside of the ordinary spread of hours provided in clause 21—Ordinary hours of work, the hourly rate (exclusive of the 25% loading) will be increased by the penalty rates provided in clause 23—Overtime and penalty rates.

    Am I classed as a casual employee or am I a permanent employee?

    • Shine Lawyers wrote:

      Thank you for getting in touch with us and sorry to hear about your experience. If you would like to get in touch with our New Client Team they will be able to help you

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