Casual employment is usually in jobs that:
- are short-term or temporary
- involve irregular hours
- aren't guaranteed to be ongoing
- don't provide paid holiday leave or sick leave.
Casual work is often on an ‘as needed’ basis. This means your shifts can vary from hour to hour, day to day or week to week. Sometimes you might get lots of work, but then your boss might cut back your hours during quiet periods.
There is no guarantee from the employer that your job will be ongoing. The flipside of this is that you can usually quit without notice.
Casual employees generally don't work set hours, although some casual workers do work long, regular hours.
A penalty rate for casual workers is a higher rate of pay that is usually paid for work on weekends or public holidays.
For example, if you work one shift on a Friday, and another shift on a Sunday, you would be paid more per hour to work the Sunday shift.
Penalty rates are also sometimes paid for work outside your normal working hours (for example, overtime payments).
Not all casuals get paid overtime penalty rates. If you work in retail for a small business, you may not be entitled to penalty rates for working outside your normal hours.
Under some modern awards, companies agree to pay a higher general rate of pay instead of offering penalty rates.
To find out whether you're entitled to overtime and other penalties, check your:
- modern award
- certified agreement
- employment contract.
Your employer should be able to tell you if you're employed under an award or agreement.
If you're still unsure about what penalty rates you should be getting, you can call JobWatch on (03) 9662 1933 (Melbourne), 1800 331 617 (outside Melbourne), or email firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also contact the Fair Work Ombudsman on 13 13 94, or use their online enquiry form.
Casual loading is extra money paid to casual workers above the normal hourly rate that full-timers or part-timers get paid in the same job.
Casual loading is often seen as compensation for the uncertainty and lack of benefits you receive as a casual worker. Many awards and agreements include a casual loading.
Modern awards specify a minimum casual loading of 25 per cent, but this can vary depending on your circumstances.
Whether or not you should be paid a casual loading will depend on your employment arrangement.
To find out more about how much you should be getting paid, have a read of our minimum wage page.
Minimum conditions for casual workers
The National Employment Standards (NES) set the minimum conditions that must apply to all employees in the national workplace system. If you're a casual, you:
- can take two days unpaid carer’s leave and two days unpaid compassionate leave for each occasion that such leave is needed
- can take unpaid community service leave for things like voluntary emergency service or jury duty
- must be provided with a copy of the Fair Work Information Statement which contains information about the NES and other employee rights.
In addition, if you’ve been working regularly and systematically in the same job for 12 months or more, you can:
- ask for flexible working arrangements
- take parental leave.
For more information about the NES, visit the Fair Work Ombudsman website. If you think your employer isn't following one or more of these standards, you can also call the Ombudsman on 13 13 94 or get in touch via their online enquiry page.
Flexibility vs security in casual work
Casual work offers more flexible work hours than other forms of employment, but the permanency of your job is less certain.
Not all casual employees can choose their own hours. Your employer will probably offer you hours to suit their business opening hours and the demands of their busiest times.
You can turn down a shift, but if you do it too often, your boss might offer you fewer shifts in the future.
If you're worried about your employer not letting you change shifts, or you’re concerned your employer is taking shifts away from you, you can call JobWatch on 9662 1933 (Melbourne), 1800 331 617 (outside Melbourne) or email email@example.com to ask for advice.
Superannuation for casuals
If you're a casual employee, your employer should be contributing superannuation into an approved superannuation fund on your behalf if you're:
- over 18 years of age, and
- earning more than $450 in a calendar month.
Details of any contributions should be shown on your pay slip.
If the number of hours you work changes a lot, your employer may make contributions on some weeks and not others.
Superannuation for under the age of 18
If you're a casual employee and aged under 18, your employer has to make superannuation contributions on your behalf if you're:
- working more than 30 hours a week, and
- earning over $450 in a calendar month
Note that if you're under 18 and working less than 30 hours a week, your employer doesn't have to make superannuation contributions for you.
Find out more about how superannuation works on our superannuation page.
Safety at work
All employees, including casuals, have the right to work in a safe workplace. To find out more about safety at work, visit our safety at work page.
JobWatch is a Victorian community legal centre that specialises in issues for workers and offers free and confidential advice. Call JobWatch on 03 9662 1933 (Melbourne) or 1800 331 617 (outside Melbourne), or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Fair Work Ombudsman