Casual workers

In Australia, there are more than two million workers employed casually.

Under the Fair Work Act, you are classified as a casual employee if you accept an offer of employment where there is no firm advance commitment to ongoing work with an agreed pattern of work.

Casual workers are entitled to some but not all of the benefits given to permanent workers.

Below you’ll find more information about casual worker entitlements and workplace rights.

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 earn more than $450 per month and 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 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.

Casual workers have the same rights as all workers to join and to be represented by a union. Australian unions fight to improve working conditions and safety for all workers. Joining a union can provide you with:

  • Representation and support
  • Better wages and conditions
  • Safe and inclusive work
  • Training and networking

As well as accessing this essential individual support, when you join a union, you are joining the fight for all casual workers’ rights.

Australian unions have long campaigned against the increased casualisation of the Australian workforce. Our work laws have made it more difficult to protect permanent work. The result is millions of workers without jobs they can count on.

To stop the rise of insecure and casual work, Australian unions work with members to obtain permanent employment while also campaigning for stronger protections in law.

In May 2020, the union movement secured a big gain for casual workers’ rights when a Federal court ruled that casuals with regular, predictable shifts are actually permanent employees entitled to paid leave. This was an important win, but the fight for more secure work is far from over.

Join your union today to support the campaign against insecure work.

In March 2021, a new entitlement was added to the National Employment Standards (NES), allowing for casual conversion – i.e. changing from casual to permanent employment.

Under the new rules, an employer (other than a small business employer – employing fewer than 15 employees) has to offer you conversion to full-time or part-time permanent employment if you:

  • Have worked for your employer for 12 months
  • Have worked a regular pattern of hours for at least the last 6 months on an ongoing basis
  • Could continue working those hours as a permanent employee without significant changes.

This offer must be made in writing within 21 days of the end of the 12-month period. You then have 21 days to accept the offer and, if accepted, your employer has to give you notice within 21 days advising if the conversion is full-time or part-time, the hours of work and the date of commencement. These issues should be discussed with you before notice is given.

Your employer does not have to make an offer if they have ‘reasonable grounds’ not to. These reasonable grounds include such things as the expectation your job will cease to exist within the next 12 months, or your hours are likely to be significantly reduced.

If you employer decides not to make you an offer based on reasonable grounds, or because you did not meet the 6 months of regular hours test, they must provide you a written notice with reasons for the decision.

If you believe you have been unfairly refused an offer of casual conversion, contact your union for advice or the Australian Unions Support Centre for free, confidential information.

Australian Unions continue to campaign for casual workers to win the right to permanent work.

Join your union today to support the fight against insecure work.

Under industrial law, casual workers have the same unfair dismissal rights as permanent workers.

They may have a right to compensation if the termination of their employment is harsh, unjust or unreasonable.

Casual workers have the right to lodge an unfair dismissal claim if they have worked 6 months in the same job, or 12 months if they work for a small business (a business with fewer than 15 employees).

Casual workers do not have access to notice of termination, or pay in lieu of notice of termination.

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Please note that the information given here is general information only and is not legal advice. For further assistance, it is recommended you speak to your union.