Casual Employment Rights

Casual workers are not entitled to most forms of paid leave or notice of termination pay. However, they are entitled to a safe workplace, freedom from discrimination, and unpaid parental leave.

In some circumstances, casual workers are also entitled to long service leave, protection from unfair dismissal and the right to request conversion to permanent work.

Under the Fair Work Act, casual employees are entitled to:

Depending on their Award or agreement, some casual workers rights may also include:

  • Unpaid two weeks pandemic leave
  • higher rate of pay for public holidays worked (but they are not entitled to be paid for public holidays that they do not work)
  • Extra pay (penalty rates) for evening, night and weekend work;
  • The same rest breaks as permanent workers, including at least a 30-minute unpaid break for every five hours of work
  • Minimum length of shifts

Pay entitlements

Casual workers are entitled to a loading on their hourly rate of pay. This means that their hourly pay rate should be more than the permanent workers doing the same work as them. This loading is compensation for the lack of paid leave provisions that casuals are entitled to, as well as the insecurity of their employment.

The amount of leave loading paid depends on the Award or agreement. Casual workers covered by the national minimum wage must get at least 25% casual loading.

Casual workers should also have superannuation contributions paid by their employers if they are over 18 years old or if they are under 18 years old and work more than 30 hours per week.

Check your Award or agreement to find out what you should be being paid or contact your union or the Australian Unions Support Centre for advice.

Leave entitlements

Under the Fair Work Act, casual workers are entitled to:

Casual workers can request 12 months of unpaid parental leave if they have been working regular shifts in the same job for 12 months or more and if they have a reasonable expectation of ongoing work.

Casual workers can also access long service leave. The length of service after which this can be taken will be set out in the Award or agreement that covers the work. The amount of long service leave you can take will also be in the award or agreement. Long service leave entitlements will also depend on the relevant State or Territory legislation.

Check your Award or agreement to find out what your leave entitlements are or contact the Australian Union Support Centre for advice.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do casual employees get penalty rates?

If you are working as a casual then you are entitled to get ‘Casual Loading’. This is a sum that is paid on top of your wage, which will usually bring your minimum hourly rate up to $24.80.

Casual employees also have an entitlement to overtime pay. You should get overtime when working more than 38 hours per week or more than 12 hours per day.

Do casual employees get super?

Yes, if you are a casual employee then your employer still has to pay you super.

If you’re over 18, your employer must pay a minimum of 10.5% (as of 1 July 2022) of your “ordinary time earnings” into the super fund of your choice.

If you are under 18 and work more than 30 hours in a week, then you are also entitled to receive super.

Can casual employees take time off?

Annual leave for casual workers is different from regular full-time employees, due to receiving casual loading to make up for the lack of paid leave. As a casual employee, there are some circumstances in which you are allowed to take days off.

These include two days of unpaid carer’s leave and two days of unpaid compassionate leave for each occasion that this leave is required. You’re allowed to take time off for things like voluntary emergency service or jury duty.

You’re also allowed to take time off on a public holiday, unless your employer has requested you work ahead of time.

Do casual employees get paid overtime?

Yes, casual employees are entitled to overtime pay. If you work more than 38 hours per week or more than 12 hours per day, then you should receive an Award payment for overtime.

Overtime hours worked by a casual employee should be paid at 175% of the ordinary hourly rate of pay for the first 3 hours and 225% of the ordinary hourly rate of pay thereafter. The Award clause payment for overtime is inclusive of casual loading.

Do casual employees get paid for public holidays?

Yes, casual employees are usually entitled to 250% of their base rate for hours worked during a public holiday.

Are casual employees entitled to long service leave?

Yes, casual employees are eligible for long service leave. This leave is a national workplace entitlement that most long-serving employees are entitled to.

Most workers will be eligible to take long service leave after they have worked for the same employer for 7 years or more. Most full-time, part-time and casual employees are entitled to long service leave and this allows you to take 2 months of paid leave.

Can a casual employee be fired for no reason?

No, a casual employee cannot be fired for no reason. If you are a casual worker then you are entitled to the same rights as permanent employees regarding unfair dismissal.

This means you are entitled to make an unfair dismissal claim if you feel that you have been treated unfairly and fired without legitimate cause.

Can a casual employee claim unfair dismissal?

Yes, a casual employee can make a claim for unfair dismissal in some circumstances. If you have worked in a role for six months or more, your employment was regular and systematic, and you had a reasonable expectation of continuing this employment, then your dismissal may be classed as unfair.

Unfair dismissal is defined as when an employee is dismissed from their job in a way, or for a reason, that is held to be unjust or unreasonable. In Australia, the Fair Work Commission will consider all cases and will investigate if an employee has grounds for an unfair dismissal case.

Can casual employees refuse shifts?

Yes, as a casual employee you have the right to refuse, swap or change shifts.

Generally, an employer will offer a casual employee shifts on a particular day, and when offered, casuals can choose to either accept or decline the shift.

The nature of casual work is fairly flexible and is based on communication and agreement between workers and managers. Ideally, employees will be offered regular shifts in a way that suits their schedule and which they will be able to consistently accept.

If you don’t agree with or are unhappy with a new roster, contact your union early to discuss the issue before you sign off on it.

Can my employer just stop giving me shifts without a reason?

Technically yes. Your employer can just not give you any shifts for a long period of time. They do not need your approval to do this because being a casual worker means you are not guaranteed ongoing work.  

However, if your boss doesn’t give you shifts for ages or starts cancelling shifts all of a sudden with no real explanation, there might be something dodgy going on.  

In that case, you may be experiencing what is known as ‘adverse action’. Adverse action is when someone (often an employer but not always) acts, plans or threaten to take harmful action against you. 

Sometimes adverse action can happen in retaliation for you doing something that is protected by your work rights e.g. taking parental leave.  

You could also be facing discrimination e.g. if your employer refuses to give you shifts on the basis of your race, sex, age or another protected attribute.  

Either way, contact your union to get advice on what to do next.

Does my employer have to give me a minimum number of hours for a shift?

Whether your employer has to give you a minimum number of hours per shift depends on your Award or enterprise agreement.  

For example, if you’re a casual employee covered by the Fast Food Award, your employer must give you at least 3 hours of work in a row. 

Check your Award or agreement to find out the minimum hours of engagement.

If you’re not sure which Award you fall under or whether you’re covered by an enterprise agreement, contact your union. Otherwise, you can contact the Australian Unions Support Centre who can help find your Award.

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