Are you someone running a small business and thinking of expanding your staff to grow your company? Or are you an employee just trying to figure out what you deserve under Australian employment law? Here is our guide on full-time and part-time employment.

If you require further legal assistance, LawPath recommends contacting an employment lawyer for advice on how you can manage full-time and part-time employment for your business.

Who is a full-time or part-time employee?

The Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) provides the definition for full-time and part-time employment. Employment status is classified based on the ordinary hours of work per week of the employee. A full-time employee is expected to work around 38 ordinary hours of work, while a part-time employee usually works less than that, with flexible agreements depending on the employer. These hours do not include additional hours.

In contrast to casual employment, both full-time and part-time employees can expect guaranteed hours of work, with certainty of ongoing work.For more information on casual employment, have a look at our guide on what is a casual employee.

What do employees get?

The National Employment Standards (NES) sets out the minimum standards to apply to the employment of employees. Under this, both full-time and part-time employees can receive NES entitlements relating to:

  • Maximum weekly hours;
  • Requests for flexible working arrangements;
  • Parental leave and related entitlements;
  • Annual leave;
  • Personal carers leave and compassionate leave;
  • Community service leave;
  • Long service leave;
  • Public holidays;
  • Notice of termination and redundancy pay; and
  • The Fair Work Information Statement.

Additionally, an award, employment contract, enterprise agreement, or other registered agreement can provide additional benefits for employees.

The key difference between part-time and full-time employment is that full-time employees receive the full range of the listed minimum entitlements. However, part-time employees receive a reduced fraction of minimum entitlements, such as sick leave, on a pro-rata basis, or based on how many hours they work each week.

How are full-time or part-time employees dismissed?

The Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) provides that the employer must provide written notice of the day of termination of the employment to the employee. This notice must be provided within a specified period of time, depending on how long they have worked with the company.

Unlike casual employees, full-time and part-time employees cannot be made redundant without notice. For more information on employee redundancy, have a read of our guide on genuine redundancy and the employer requirements when dismissing a full-time or part-time employee.

Changing full-time or part-time hours

If an employee is currently in full-time or part-time employment, it is possible to change to a different form of agreement if both parties agree to the change in employment. If the employee would like to change from full-time to casual, the current full-time employment agreement is terminated, and the new casual agreement replaces it. This termination must follows the rules of providing written notice and paying out leave and other entitlements.

If the employee does not agree to change employment, an employer can change the terms of the employment without consent, but this depends on the terms of the agreement. LawPath recommends seeking legal advice from an employment lawyer if you are in this situation.

Conclusion – what’s the difference?

For small businesses, the variation in terms of agreement can provide a tailored kind of flexibility to suit your business’s employment needs, and it can be quite tricky.

So what’s the difference overall? Full-time employees provide structure and stability to your business, and if you would like a full-time employment agreement, LawPath can assist you with our Full Time Employment Agreement. On the other hand, part-time employees, while working less hours, provides flexibility of labour for your business. If you would like a part-time agreement for your business, LawPath can assist you with our Part Time Employment Agreement.

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If you would like an existing agreement reviewed or more information on employment, LawPath recommends getting in touch with an employment lawyer.

Contact a LawPath consultant on 1800LAWPATH to learn more about customising legal documents, obtaining a fixed-fee quote from our largest online network of expert lawyers or to get answers to your legal questions.

Richard Yuen

Richard Yuen

Richard is a Paralegal working in our content team which aims to provide free legal guides to facilitate public access to legal resources. With an interest in information law, his primary focus is in how the law adapts to govern the use and development of new technology in a modern environment.