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Casual Employee Rights: What you need to know
Being a casual employee means that you have some slightly different work agreements to your fixed part- and full-time counterparts. There are more than 2 million casual employees in Australia, and it’s important to remember that this popular work arrangement comes with a different set of rights as well.
In some cases, you may be surprised at just how many rights you do have, while in others, it will be important to know in case you should ever enter into any kind of dispute with your employer or if you’re unsure about what you can reasonably ask for.
Note that in some cases, your work contract may offer additional agreements that go above and beyond what is required by law, so always go over your contract before signing it and ask a trusted friend or advisor if you need help with negotiations.
Here’s what you need to know about what it means to be a casual employee and what you can expect from your casual employee rights.
What is a casual employee?
Firstly, make sure you qualify as a casual employee. This means you:
● Do not get paid annual or sick leave
● Have no guaranteed hours of work
● Often (but not always) work irregular hours
● Can leave your job without notice, unless otherwise stated in your casual employment contract
A casual employee is different from a normal part- or full-time employee in a number of ways. Largely in that the latter can expect regular, fixed work, paid leave, and both the employer and employee must give notice.
Typically speaking, the main benefit of working as a casual employee means that you will often enjoy a higher hourly rate to compensate for the lack of paid leave. Less regular hours may also better suit some people’s schedules.
Casual employee rights
Casual employees are included under Australia’s Fair Work Act. These rights include:
● 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 casually on a regular 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.
● Note that there are no official minimum hours for casual employees per shift, but you should check your agreement on this before starting work as many employers stick to a minimum of two or three hours per shift for casual staff.
● 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
Where can I learn more about casual employee rights
If you’d like to learn more about casual employee termination and other casual employee rights, there are a number of resources you can turn to. If your company has a Human Resources department, they are often a good first port of call for you to discuss your rights and your contract.
Local and federal government, as well as private groups, also offer a variety of sources you can turn to for more detailed information, and to seek out advice.
See below for places that may be suitable for you:
If you are applying for casual work with Michael Page, note that your specialist recruiter may also be able to help with advice for negotiating your contract, so don’t hesitate to ask should you have any questions.