There are a few options when hiring someone to work for you. Each option will have different employment conditions and entitlements, so think carefully about which type of worker will work best for you.

The first thing to consider is whether you want to hire someone as an ongoing employee or if you only need specialised skills for a short time.

If you're not sure, follow our guide on workforce planning for help to identify skills gaps and hire an effective workforce.

Hiring contractors and agency staff

For shorter, more temporary projects you might prefer to hire:

  • contractors and subcontractors
  • employment agency staff (also called labour hire)

Contractors and labour hire staff are people you can hire to work for you but who are not technically your employees.

Contractor arrangement

A contractor or independent contractor usually runs their own businesses with an Australian business number (ABN) and invoice you for their work, rather than receiving wages. A contractor also:

  • has their own insurance
  • can work for more than one hirer at a time
  • can subcontract their work to others
  • provides their own equipment or works from their own base
  • is hired to do a set task and their employment ends when the task is done

Labour hire arrangement

Hiring staff through an employment agency means the agency employs the worker and outsources them to you for agreed hours or a set period:

  • The agency pays the worker's wages and other entitlements and you pay the agency.
  • The agency will charge you a commission, agency or finder's fee.
  • You can hire people at short notice with specific skills, or for short-term or long-term projects.
  • Workers may not develop a loyalty to your business and take their knowledge with them.

Hiring employees

Hiring someone as an employee means they:

  • can be employed full-time, part-time, casual or as an apprentice or trainee
  • receive payment as wages or salary
  • have their tax taken out by their employer
  • are based at your business, work at your home or are mobile
  • can be directed when, what and how to do a task

You'll have more long-term commitments to employees, including the obligation to pay superannuation and long service leave.

Types of employees

If you choose to hire someone as an employee, you can hire them in the following ways:

  • permanent or fixed-term (full-time or part-time)
  • casual
  • apprentice or trainee

Full-time or part-time employees

A full-time employee works a full work week, which is 38 hours on average. Full-timers usually work standard days – for example, Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm.

A part-time employee works regular set hours but less than 38 hours – for example, Wednesday to Friday 11am to 1pm. Some awards require an employer to roster a part-time employee for a minimum of 3 consecutive hours on any shift.

Financial incentives for hiring new workers

If you're thinking about employing full-time staff, check out the following program:

  • The Restart program offers incentives for employers who hire people aged 50 years or over on a full-time basis.

Casual employees

Casual employment offers a flexible hiring option for both the employer and employee. Casual employees are often used in workplaces with short or irregular periods of work, but can also work in long-term arrangements.

Casual employees:

  • can be asked to work at short notice
  • have no guarantee of regular hours
  • are not entitled to annual leave, personal leave, or paid carer's leave
  • can be terminated without notice unless covered by an agreement or contract that specifies otherwise

Entitlements for casuals

Casual employees are paid a casual loading of at least 20% to 25% on top of their base rate of pay. This is to compensate them for not receiving paid leave, guaranteed work and other entitlements given to full-time and part-time staff. The amount of loading depends on the agreement or award.

Some awards require casuals to be paid for a minimum of 3 or 4 hours of work per shift.

Apprentices and trainee employees

An apprenticeship (also known as traineeship) is a training contract between an employer and an employee.

The employer provides training and the apprentice learns the occupation or trade. At the end of the training, the apprentice gains a nationally recognised qualification.

Apprentices can:

  • be employed on a full-time or part-time basis
  • be of any age
  • already hold a qualification

Training can be totally on-the-job, or a combination of on and off-the-job programs.

Apprentices are usually entitled to the same superannuation, workers compensation and other employee requirements. An apprentice wage varies depending on qualification, type of training, and industry.

Businesses that employ apprentices may be eligible for financial assistance.

Group training

Group training organisations employ Australian apprentices and place them with employers while they're being trained.

Group training is a great option for businesses that:

  • can't offer an Australian apprentice a permanent position because they can't guarantee ongoing work
  • might not have the range of work available to ensure an Australian apprentice gains all the necessary job skills for that industry
  • don't have the time to go through all employment and training functions