Casual, or part-time? This is a question we often get asked and while casual and part-time employees each play an important role in the workplace, correctly distinguishing between the two is vital. This article will outline the key differences between casual and part-time employment and explain why it’s so important to correctly classify your employees.
The first thing to note is that there is no such thing as a ‘permanent casual’. This is a common misconception, but an employee is either one or the other, not both. A part time employee is a ‘permanent employee’ while a casual employee is, of course, casual.
Modern awards clarify how both casual and part-time employees must be engaged under that award. For most employees in a podiatry business, the relevant award is the Health Professionals and Support Services Award 2020, which states that a casual employee:
Meanwhile, a part-time employee:
Further differences between casual and part-time employees include:
A casual employee should have no expectation of ongoing work. Rather, their work is more intermittent and they should only be engaged on an “as-needs” basis. A genuine casual employee should not be expecting to receive regular hours each week.
In comparison, a part-time employee should have agreed hours and days of work and there should be a clear expectation of an ongoing employment relationship.
A part-employee is entitled to paid annual leave, as well as paid personal/carer’s (sick) leave. A casual employee is not entitled to either. While a part-time employee is entitled to paid compassionate leave, a casual employee is only entitled to unpaid compassionate leave.
While part-time employees are entitled to the notice provisions stipulated in the National Employment Standards (NES), the ‘as needs’ nature of casual employment means they are not entitled to notice of termination. This also applies to long term casuals, even if they have access to unfair dismissal.
If a casual position is made redundant, the casual employee who held that position is not entitled to redundancy pay. Keep in mind, redundancy pay only applies if a practice has more than 15 employees.
If a casual has worked for 12 months on a regular and systematic basis and has a reasonable expectation of ongoing work they will also be entitled to unpaid parental leave.
This means they will also have a return-to-work guarantee at the same or similar position after finishing their parental leave period.
Similarly, a casual employee who has worked regularly and systematically for 12 months can request flexible working arrangements.
While traditionally a genuine casual employee should have no expectation of ongoing employment, if a casual employee has worked on a regular and systematic basis for six months they are entitled to make a claim for unfair dismissal if they feel they were unfairly dismissed. For small businesses, this must be for a period of 12 months.
While each state and territory has its own long service leave legislation and entitlements, casual employees are generally afforded the same long service leave entitlement as permanent employees.
There were recent changes to the NES that allowed casual employees to convert to part-time employment if they meet certain criteria:
Within 21 days of their 12 month anniversary, an employer must inform a casual employee in writing whether they are offering the employee casual conversion, or declining to make an offer. An employer may only decline to offer casual conversion if the employee does not meet the requirements, or on reasonable business grounds – such as that the position will not exist in the next 12 months.
For small businesses there is no positive obligation to offer casual conversion, but any employee may still request conversion to permanent employment if they believe they meet the criteria.
The Fair Work Ombudsman is beginning to crack down on casual employees being treated as permanent without receiving the applicable entitlements. If you are unsure about how to engage a new employee, contact the APodA HR Advisory Service. Generally, an employer should consider the following: