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Employing casual workers

Understand their rights and entitlements

On this page

  • Find out why casual workers can help your business
  • Know what your casual workers are entitled to   
  • Plan your business around casual workers

What is a casual employee?

A casual employee is a worker with whom you don't have a firm commitment in advance of how long they will be employed, or the days and hours they will work. A casual employee also doesn't have to accept to all of the work that you offer.

An employee that works to a roster that you might change weekly, and can swap or refuse shifts, is a casual employee.

Why employ casual workers?

Casual workers can be a vital 'back up' system to your business so when times are busy, or unexpected staff shortages happen, you can continue to operate your business.

They're a great resource to meet the fluctuating or ad-hoc needs of your business. Examples of this might include evening and weekend work where demand is higher but only short shifts are required, covering for regular staff who are away, or work in industries with seasonal fluctuations.

Casual worker entitlements

Unlike full and part-time employees who work regular weekly hours, casual workers aren't entitled to sick or annual leave and don't need to give any notice when ending employment.

Your casual employees are entitled to:

  • the Fair Work Information Statement being provided at the start of employment
  • 'casual loading', being a higher rate of pay than full and part-time workers because they don't get benefits like sick or annual leave
  • two days unpaid carer's leave and two days unpaid compassionate leave per occasion
  • unpaid community service leave
  • 5 days unpaid family and domestic violence leave (in a 12-month period)
  • a day off work on public holidays – unless reasonably requested to work. 

Find out more details about requesting and refusing to work on public holidays

Here's a tip: plan your public holiday roster well in advance so you can make sure your roster provides employees with their proper entitlements as outlined in the National Employment Standards (NES).

Know when the public holidays land this Christmas by checking out our Victorian public holidays page.

Casual work and long service leave

Covered by the Victorian Long Service Leave Act 2018 (LSL Act 2018), casual workers accrue long service leave.

To determine whether another award or agreement applies, take a look at the Long Service Leave Act 2018 Comprehensive Guide (PDF 984.63 KB)PDF icon for more details, or give Fairwork a call on 13 13 94.

Our page on employee pay rates and conditions provides information about the NES. The Standards underpin employment in Australia, however certain elements don't apply to casual employees, such as paid personal and annual leave.

Find examples of how Long Service Leave is calculated

Other legislative coverage for casual staff

Employers should also be aware that other parts of legislation will apply to all staff – as well as casuals – and include:

  • Occupational Health and Safety legislation
  • Equal Opportunity Legislation Fair Work Act – most notably the Unfair Dismissal and General Protections sections
  • workers compensation legislation.

While there are restrictions on which casual employees can access Unfair Dismissal protections, all other elements apply equally to all staff.

This essentially means that employers should apply recruitment, induction and behavioral standards across the board to best manage these aspects.

Learn how to dismiss staff properly

Do awards apply to casuals?

Award and Enterprise Agreements will also have additional provisions for casual staff. To check the awards and entitlements of the casual employees you engage, use the Fair Work award finder.

Remember that entitlements can also come from letters of offer, contracts and/or policies and procedures – so employers should ensure there's clarity around these entitlements and conditions.

Long term casual employees

Using casuals as part of standard, ongoing rosters creates a number of entitlements that you might need to cover as an employer. After at least 12 months of being employed regularly on a casual basis, and if you intend to continue the employment relationship, a casual employee can:

  • request flexible working arrangements
  • unpaid parental leave of 12 months.

The employee still doesn't get paid leave or notice of termination, regardless of duration of employment.

Changing to full or part-time employment

A casual employee can change to full or part-time employment at any itme if you both agree to it. There may also be some circumstances in which a casual employee can request to change to full or part-time work.

For more details on casual employment, transitioning casual employees to full or part-time work, and awards specific to your industry visit the FairWork Ombudsman website.