What is a casual employee?

Aug 23, 2016
Reading Time: 2 minutes
Written by Richard Yuen

Running a small business and thinking about hiring a few extra casual employees to help you carry out some tasks? Look no further – here is our guide on what you should know about offering casual employment to prospective employees.

If you require further legal assistance, LawPath recommends contacting an employment lawyer for advice on how you can manage casual employment.

What is a casual employee?

Casual employment is undefined under the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth), but the Fair Work Ombudsman have defined it as a situation where an employee only works on demand by the employer. A casual employee generally has no guaranteed hours of work, and works irregular hours. There is no certainty of ongoing work as a casual employee.

This is different to full-time and part-time employment, in which they have ongoing employment and can work regular hours every week.

What do casual employees get?

The National Employment Standards (NES) sets out the minimum standards to apply to the employment of employees. Under this, casual employees only get NES entitlements relating to:

  • Unpaid carer’s leave (2 days);
  • Unpaid compassionate leave (2 days);
  • Unpaid community service leave; and
  • The Fair Work Information Statement.

In addition, casual employees are entitled to a higher hourly pay rate compared to equivalent full-time or part-time employees called a ‘casual loading’, which is generally 15 – 25% of the hourly rate in addition to the hourly rate. This loading is designed to compensate the employee for lack of annual leave, public holidays, and other such benefits enjoyed by full-time and part-time employees.

There are additional entitlements from the NES that apply to casual employees who have been employed for 12 months. If it is likely that the employee will continue to be employed as a casual, they have the option to request for flexible working arrangements and to take parental leave.

How are casual employees dismissed?

Casual employment can be ended without notice, unless the notice is required by a registered agreement, award, or employment contract.

However if the employee is employed on a regular and systematic basis, they are entitled to make an application for unfair dismissal under the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth).


For small businesses, deciding whether or not to hire someone under a casual employment agreement or a part-time/full-time agreement can be quite tricky, depending on the business’s needs. If you would like a casual employment agreement for your business, LawPath can assist you with our Casual Employment Agreement. If you would like an existing agreement reviewed or more information on casual 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 network of 600+ expert lawyers or to get answers to your legal questions.

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