A casual employee does not have a firm commitment in advance from an employer about how long they will be employed for, or the days (or hours) they will work. A casual employee also does not commit to all work an employer might offer.
For example, an employee who works to a roster that could change each week and can refuse or swap shifts is casual.
A casual employee:
- has no guaranteed hours of work
- usually works irregular hours
- doesn't get paid sick or annual leave
- can end employment without notice, unless notice is required by a registered agreement, award or employment contract.
How is casual different to full-time or part-time?
Full-time and part-time employees have ongoing employment (or a fixed-term contract) and can expect to work regular hours each week. They are entitled to paid sick leave and annual leave.
Full-time and part-time employees must give or receive notice to end the employment.
What do casual employees get?
Casual employees are entitled to:
- a higher pay rate than equivalent full-time or part-time employees. This is called a 'casual loading' and is paid because they don't get benefits such as sick or annual leave
- 2 days unpaid carer's leave and 2 days unpaid compassionate leave per occasion
- 5 days unpaid family and domestic violence leave (in a 12-month period)
- unpaid community service leave.
Long term casual employees
Some casual employees work for one employer for a long period and become 'long term casuals'.
Long term casuals stay as casual employees unless their employment relationship changes with their employer so that there is a mutual commitment to provide ongoing work on an agreed pattern of ordinary hours of work. A long term casual gets their casual entitlements regardless of how regularly they work or how long they work for.
After at least 12 months of being engaged regularly by an employer on a casual basis, and if it’s likely that the employment relationship will continue, a casual employee can:
- request flexible working arrangements
- take parental leave.
They don't get paid leave or notice of termination, even if they work regularly for a long time.
Changing to full-time or part-time employment
A casual employee can change to full-time or part-time employment at any time if the employer and employee both agree to it.
Most awards have a minimum process for changing casual employees to full-time or part-time. Some enterprise agreements and other registered agreements have a similar process.
Find more information about arrangements for casual employees in your award by selecting from the list below.
Based on what you've told us, it looks like you're covered by the Plumbing and Fire Sprinklers Award 2010 [MA000036].
Casual employees are entitled to ask to change to full-time or part-time employment when they:
- have a regular pattern of work
- have been employed for 6 months or more
- will continue to be employed after the 6 months.
Within 4 weeks of an employee meeting the conditions above, an employer has to give the employee notice in writing that they can ask to become full-time or part-time.
The casual employee will become a full-time or part-time employee if:
- they write to their employer, within 4 weeks of the notice being given, asking to change to full-time or part-time employment
- the employer accepts their request.
The change from casual to full-time or part-time is called a 'casual conversion'.
The employee will stay a casual employee if, within 4 weeks of the notice being given:
- they write to their employer asking to stay a casual employee
- they don’t respond in writing.
The employee can’t ask again, under the award, to become a full-time or part-time employee. The employee can become a full-time or part-time employee at any time if the employer and employee agree to make the change.
An employee can’t be changed to or from casual employment to avoid any obligations under the award.
If the employer doesn’t give notice as required
If the employer doesn’t tell the casual employee that they can request to change to full-time or part-time within 4 weeks of the employee meeting the conditions above, the casual employee:
- can make a request any time after the 4 weeks has passed
- can only make this request once.
Refusing a request to change to full-time or part-time employment
An employer can only refuse a request by a casual employee to change to full-time or part-time on reasonable grounds.
When an employer refuses a request they must:
- tell the employee in detail why the request was refused
- discuss these reasons with the employee
- make a genuine attempt to reach an agreement.
Check the Plumbing Award for the complete process to change from casual to full-time or part-time.
Use the Casual conversion letter - Construction Industry template (DOCX 49.8KB) to let employees know about the casual conversion process.
To find out more about who this award applies to, go to the Plumbing Award summary.
Source reference: Plumbing and Fire Sprinklers Award 2010 [MA000036] clause 14.3
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