Casual vs Part-time employees: what’s the difference?

The difference between full-time, part-time and casual work is sometimes confusing. While it can be difficult to choose which employment-type is best for both your business and your employees, appropriately classifying your employees is vital. If you don’t classify your employees correctly there could be grave consequences, including a breach of a modern award or an underpayment.

To break it down there are four main types of employment:

  1. Full-time
  2. Part-time
  3. Casual
  4. Temporary

A part-time employee has ongoing employment and works less than 38 hours per week, with set hours and days each week. Part-time employees are also entitled to leave and notice. These entitlements include:

  • Annual leave;
  • Personal/carers leave (Sick leave);
  • Parental leave;
  • Long service leave;
  • Community service leave;
  • Public holidays; and
  • Paid notice upon termination

The main difference between casual and part-time is that a part-time employee has an expectation of ongoing work. Because of this, many modern awards require part-time employment contracts to outline the days, hours and start and finishing times of part-time employees. Not doing this is a breach of the award and will attract civil penalties.

By contrast, a casual has no guaranteed hours of work or expectation of ongoing work in the future. Casual employees provide businesses with a great deal of flexibility as casuals can be hired as needed. Casual employees are not entitled to the same benefits as a part-time employee and do not receive entitlements such as:

  • Paid annual leave;
  • Paid personal/carers leave;
  • Notice upon termination;
  • Redundancy pay; and
  • Guaranteed hours of work

Casuals, however, are entitled to 2 unpaid days of carers leave per year and 2 days compassionate leave per occasion. In order to compensate casual employees, they are entitled to a 25% loading on top of their base rate of pay in lieu of permanent entitlements.

There are two types of casual employees. The first is a regular and systematic casual also known as a long-term casual. This type of casual employee works regular hours and does have an expectation of ongoing work. For example, a casual who has worked Monday, Wednesday and Friday for 3 years.

Regular and systematic casuals have the right to take parental leave and request flexible working arrangements.

The second type of casual employee is an irregular casual. These employees don’t have guaranteed hours or an expectation of ongoing work.

Regular and systematic casuals now pose a significant risk for businesses. The decision in WorkPac Pty Limited v Skene [2018] FCAFC 131 has complicated the employment landscape, as courts can now deem regular and systematic casuals to be permanent employees. When deciding if a casual is a permanent employee, the court considers whether the employee has been given a clear commitment as to the length of their employment or the hours they will work each week. This leaves businesses liable if a court determines a casual employee is actually a permanent employee. The business may be forced to backpay all entitlements that a permanent employee would typically have access to.

When employing casuals who are regular and systematic, employers can minimise the risk of having a casual employee be deemed a permanent staff member by having a well-written contract that includes the casual loading to ‘set off’ any entitlements.

Do you need more information on casuals? Are you unsure whether your employees are classified as casuals? HR Assured offers a 24/7 telephone advisory service where you can receive advice from our experienced workplace relations consultants. Contact us today to find out more.