It is the fast-approaching time of the year when a lot of businesses will be hiring extra workers to cover the busy, upcoming holiday period. The employment is usually for a short period and employees are typically hired on a casual basis to cater for this interim influx of customers and work.
Understanding your employment status is critical, so you can know your rights at work and protect them . Your entitlements change depending on your type of employment, making it important to be aware exactly what it means to be a casual employee.
Who is considered a casual employee?
A casual employee is quite different to a part-time employee, in particular for the following reasons:
- does not get paid annual or sick leave;
- has no guaranteed hours of work;
- often works irregular hours; and
- can leave the job without notice, unless otherwise stated in your casual employment contract.
What are the rights of a casual employee?
This lack of job security and entitlements is offset by casuals being entitled to a higher rate of pay compared to part-time or full-time employees. Under the agreement put in place by the Fair Work Act, there are also quite a number of other entitlements that you may not be aware of:
- Two days of unpaid compassionate leave per occasion (such as bereavement).
- Two days of unpaid carer’s leave per occasion (such as looking after an ill family member).
- The national minimum wage (currently $18.93 per hour), plus 25% casual loading (additional wages to balance out unpaid leave and other permanent worker perks that are unavailable to casual staff).
If you have been working on a casual basis for six months and have a reasonable expectation to continue doing so, you have the same unfair dismissal rights as permanent employees. For small businesses of 15 employees or fewer, you must have worked regularly for 12 months for this to take effect.
- A maximum of 38 hours of work per week, plus reasonable additional hours.
- Days off on public holidays, unless this is a reasonable request by your employer.
- The ability to turn down shifts, however, note that turning down multiple shifts may lead your employer to stop offering them.
- Superannuation payments on your behalf (if you are over 18 and earning more than $450 per month).
- A safe workplace.
- Community service leave (unpaid) such as jury duty.
- Long-term casual employee rights
If you have been working as a casual employee for 12 months or more, you are considered to be a ‘long-term casual employee’. This means you gain a few extra rights under the Fair Work Act:
- Unpaid parental leave of 12 months
- You can request flexible working arrangements
Understanding your rights and entitlements as an employee can be difficult. If you have any questions, get in touch with experienced employment lawyers.