Over the last few years, there has been an increase in the number of casual employees who are actually employed permanently but are categorised as being casual employees.
If you were asked to list the differences, could you?
Recently, Fair Work ordered an employer to pay $7000 compensation to a bottle shop worker who they had fired without notice. Although his employer argued the employee was casual, evidence provided showed he regularly worked four shifts per week.
Fair Work found the employee worked on a regular and systematic basis and reasonably expected to work the same hours each week. Based on this finding, it was established the employee was not a casual worker and therefore covered by unfair dismissal protections.
How is Casual different to full-time or part-time employment?
A full-time or part-time employee has the expectation of on-going employment and regular hours each week. They also have access to entitlements such as personal leave, annual leave and the accrual of long service leave. These employees must give or receive notice to end their employment.
A casual employee has no guaranteed hours of work and usually works irregular hours. They receive a higher hourly rate than their full-time or part-time colleagues. This ‘casual loading’ is paid as they are not entitled to any benefits such as personal or annual leave. These employees can end their employment or it can be ended without notice by their employer unless notice is required by a registered agreement, award or employment contact.
Another way of looking at casual employment is considering every engagement as its own separate contract of employment.
Some questions to ask yourself:
1. How many hours per week does the employee work?
2. Is a roster system published in advance?
3. Do they have a regular employment pattern?
4. Is there a mutual expectation of continuity of employment?
5. Do you require the employee to provide notice before they are absent or on leave?
6. Can your employees refuse offers of work at any time?
7. Do they work consistent start and finish times.
This checklist is a guide only and may vary if your employees have registered agreements or employment contracts.
What should I do?
Keep an eye out for casual employees who start to undertake work which is regular, systematic and are working the same number of hours per week. Under many awards, they are more than likely classified as permanent employees.
As an employer, please be aware…if you have casuals who work regular part-time or full-time hours and have done so for a long time, whether designated as casual or not, they may have rights for unfair dismissal claims or even long service leave.
It is in the best interest of both parties to ensure all employee types are set out in a letter of appointment and employment agreement that says, where applicable, the modern award and classification applicable to their position and provided to the employee when they start working for you.
Akyra Strategy & Development www.akyra.com.au
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