What is a casual employee?

A casual employee is a worker with whom you don't have a firm commitment on:

  • how long they will be employed
  • the days and hours they will work.

A casual employee also doesn't have to accept all the work that you offer.

For example, a casual employee might work to a roster that you change weekly, and can swap or refuse shifts.

Why employ casual workers?

Casual workers can be a vital 'back up' system to your business so you can continue to operate your business when times are busy, or unexpected staff shortages happen.

They're a great resource to meet the fluctuating needs of your business. Examples of this might include:

  • evening and weekend work where demand is higher but only short shifts are required
  • covering for regular staff who are away
  • work in industries with seasonal fluctuations.

National entitlements for casual workers

Unlike full-time and part-time employees, casual workers are only entitled to some of the entitlements in the National Employment Standards (NES). While they're not entitled to things like paid sick leave, annual leave or notice of termination, casuals are still entitled to the following:

Long service leave for casual workers

Casual workers accrue long service leave under the Victorian Long Service Leave Act 2018 (LSL Act).

Use our guide to calculate long service leave for your casual employees.

To work out whether another award or agreement applies, take a look at our guide to the LSL Act or call Fair Work on 13 13 94.

Long-term casual employees

Using casuals as part of standard, ongoing rosters creates a number of entitlements that you might need to cover as an employer. After at least 12 months of being employed regularly on a casual basis, and if you intend to continue the employment relationship, a casual employee can request:

  • flexible working arrangements
  • unpaid parental leave of 12 months

The employee still doesn't get paid leave or notice of termination, regardless of how long they're employed.

Changing to full or part-time employment

A casual employee can change to full or part-time employment at any time if you both agree to it.

Visit the FairWork Ombudsman website for more details on casual employment, transitioning casual employees to full or part-time work, and awards specific to your industry.

Right to safe and fair employment

The laws that protect an employee's right to a safe and fair employment apply to all staff, including casuals.

This includes:

  • occupational health and safety legislation
  • workers compensation legislation
  • equal opportunity legislation
  • the Fair Work Act, which includes unfair dismissal and general workplace protections.

Unfair dismissal claims

While there are restrictions on which casual employees can access Unfair Dismissal protections, all other elements apply equally to all staff.

This essentially means that employers should apply recruitment, induction and behavioural standards across the board to best manage these aspects.

Our guide can help you dismiss staff properly if you need to.

Casual entitlements in awards and agreements

Award and enterprise agreements will have more provisions for casual staff. Use the Fair Work award finder to check the awards and entitlements of your casual employees.

Remember that entitlements can also come from letters of offer, contracts or policies and procedures, so make sure these entitlements and conditions are clear.