What does it mean to be a casual employee?

Casual employees are those who do not have a certain or fixed commitment with their employer. Hours worked are not regular and casual employees have the right to swap shifts or refuse work given by their employer.  Also, casual employees are not entitled to sick or annual leave. However, they are able to end their employment with notice, with the exception that there is a contract, agreement or award which requires notice.

Casual employment contracts vs full-time

There are many differences between a casual and a full-time contract.

Casual Full-time
Employment Not regular Ongoing or fixed employment
Hours Hours are not regular, higher hourly rate than equivalent full-time employees Regular hours
Sick/annual leave No Yes
Penalty Rates Yes No

Employees who sign casual employment contracts with their employer should ensure that their hourly rate is compliant with the Award that they are under. The hourly rate should be higher than the equivalent of full-time and part-time employees. It is also necessary to check whether penalty rates apply under the specific Award, specifically if you are working on a public holiday or on a Sunday.

Another benefit for a casual employee relates to notice. It is not necessary to provide notice to your employer if you want to end your casual employment, however it is essential to check whether anything in the contract you are signing relates to unfair dismissal or notice as an employee.

As a casual employee, you are not entitled to annual or sick leave. There should be a common understanding that casual work can be regular or frequent.

Let’s look at an example of a casual employment contract

Vivienne is hired by Tennisworks to provide tennis lessons to a group of 3 students. She signs a contract which states that she is paid an hourly rate of $26 from Monday to Friday, $28/hour on Saturday and $32/hour on Sundays. She agrees with her employer to work 3 shifts a week, with no preference in days. However, if there are not enough students for the shift she does not work. Her contract also states that her shifts are irregular and uncertain and there is no guarantee of continuous work. She is employed as a casual worker.

If you would like to know more about casual employment contracts, call JFMLAW on 02 9331 0266 and one of our employment law specialists will be glad to assist.