Part-time, casual & short-term work
Part-time, casual and short-term workers are a big chunk of employees in Australia. In 2009, 20% of Australian workers were casual workers, and 29% worked part-time.
So what's the difference between full-time ongoing work and part-time, casual or short-term employment?
A part-time job is one that employs you for less than a full working week (around 38 hours per week).
For example, a job that requires you to work only Mondays and Thursdays each week is considered part-time. So is a job that requires you to work only from 9am-1pm Monday to Friday.
A casual job is a job with no set or guaranteed hours of work. Casual employees work the number of hours that their employers require. This is usually set out by a list, called a "roster". A roster indicates the times and dates that you are expected to start work (these are called "shifts"), and how long you are expected to work for each shift.
The actual hours worked as part of a casual job can vary from week to week, depending on the nature of the job and changes to the roster. One week you might be required to work on Saturday and Sunday, the next only Saturday, and the next you might have to work Monday and Thursday.
Why do part-time or casual work?
People do part-time and casual work for lots of reasons, including:
- Unavailability of full-time jobs
- Wanting to gain experience or build up a resume
- Having spare time during school holidays
- Opening doors for a full-time job
- Needing money while studying
- Trying out a job before pursuing it as a career
- Paying the bills while following another career or interest, such as art or music
- Being unable to work full-time
An additional benefit of casual work - but NOT part-time work - is that the hourly rate of pay is often higher than full-time workers doing the same job. The reason that casual rates are higher than full-time rates is because casual employees don't have as many benefits as full-time employees (see Pay and conditions, below).
Short-term contract work
Short-term contract jobs are jobs that have a definite end date. The length of the contract is specified in the contract itself. Short-term or contract jobs could last for one month, three months or even twelve months.
The hours of work you do as part of a short-term contract could be full-time, part-time or casual, but once the contract ends, so does your job.
Some people choose short-term jobs because they don't want to feel like they will be stuck in the same job for a long time.
If you're thinking of returning to study or travelling in the near future, taking on a short-term job is a good option to avoid having to resign from a permanent job just a few weeks or months after you start.
Taking on a short-term contract is a good stepping stone towards finding full-time work. It gives you the opportunity to expand your networks and helps you to tap into the hidden job market.
Sometimes you might be offered another short-term contract when your existing short-term contract ends, but other times your work with that employer finishes with the end of the contract.
To find out more about contracts, check out our Employment contracts page.
Pay and conditions
Casual work (and sometimes short-term contract work) usually pays more than full-time work. However, there are trade-offs for this kind of flexibility and higher wages. Casual and contract workers often don't receive:
- Sick leave
- Public holiday pay
- Annual leave
Make sure you know what entitlements are (and aren't) provided by your employer before signing a contract. Check out our Employment rights section for more information about contracts, payments and other employee rights.
Part-Time Employee Entitlements
The Fair Work Ombudsman has a good overview of your rights as a part-time worker, and what entitlements you should expect.
ACTU - Casual Workers
The Australian Council of Trade Unions has some good advice on your rights as a casual worker and what you can do if you need help.
JobWatch - Casual Employment
JobWatch's information sheet on casual work features information about the rights and entitlements of casual workers.