How many hours is full-time? Part-time? Contracting?

If you’re in the midst of a job search, chances are you’ve come across various types of jobs, including full-time, part-time, casual, temporary, or contract work. But what’s the difference, and what does each mean in terms of working hours and entitlements? We’ve created this quick guide of employment statuses in Australia so that you know where you stand when applying for a job.

What is full-time work?

Full-time employees in Australia have ongoing employment and work approximately 38 hours a week. The exact weekly hours for an employee in a particular job or sector depends on what’s agreed on by the employer and the employee, and/or the weekly hours set by an award or industry agreement.

A full-time employee is entitled to the following:

  • 4 weeks’ annual leave
  • Personal leave
  • Public holidays
  • Maternity or paternity leave
  • Long service leave
  • Superannuation guarantee
  • Period of notice if job is terminated


Leave entitlements are set out by the National Employment Standards, but contracts, awards, and other registered agreements can also be used to set rules about using leave and required notice periods.

What is part-time work?

Part-time employees work less than 38 hours a week, on average, but typically work regular hours each week. They are entitled to the same benefits as a full-time employee but on a pro-rata basis. For example, a part-time employee who works 20 hours a week will accumulate 80 hours of annual leave over the course of a year, which is the equivalent of 4 weeks’ work for that employee. Part-time employees can either be permanent employees or on a fixed-term contract.

What is casual work?

Casual employees have no guaranteed hours of work and aren’t entitled to paid sick leave or annual leave. They are entitled to a higher hourly pay rate (called ‘casual loading’) than equivalent part-time or full-time employees because they don’t get benefits like paid sick leave or annual leave. Unlike full-time or part-time employees, casual employees can end their employment without notice unless a notice period is stipulated by an award or employment contract.

What’s the difference between an employee and a contractor?

While there are a number of factors that determine whether a person is an employee or a contractor, essentially independent contractors run their own business. This means they can typically negotiate their own fees and working arrangements, and have the freedom to work for more than one client at a time.

Independent contractors are different to employees working on a fixed-term contract, such as a 12-month maternity leave contract. Unlike independent contractors, fixed-term contract employees are usually still considered full-time or part-time employees and are entitled to the same benefits.

Here’s a breakdown of some of the main differences between contractors and employees:




Hours of work

Generally works standard or set hours (unless a casual employee)

Contractor and client agree on hours to work to complete a task.

Expectation of work

Usually has the expectation of ongoing work.

Usually hired for a specific task.


Entitled to have superannuation contributions paid into a nominated superannuation fund by their employer.

Pays their own superannuation (although some independent contractors are employees for super purposes).

Tools and equipment

Provided by the employer

Provided by the contractor


Tax is deducted by the employer

Pays their own tax and GST to the ATO

Method of payment

Paid on a regular basis (for example, weekly/fortnightly/monthly)

Has an ABN and submits an invoice to be paid for work completed


Entitled to paid leave or casual loading for casual employees

No paid leave

Are you looking for your next full-time, part-time, casual or contract job? Contact a Michael Page specialist recruiter today to discuss what you’re looking for.

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