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Different types of employment agreements and arrangements

Casual work arrangements

Your rights as a casual worker

If there’s no regular pattern to your work, and there’s no expectation it will continue in the future, you and your employer can agree to a casual employment relationship.

If you’re a casual employee, your employer doesn’t have to offer you any work and you don’t have to accept any offer. If you work for the employer on one occasion, you have no guarantee of being rehired later on.

Being a casual employee affects your employment in other specific areas. For example, casual employees can agree to receive their annual holiday pay on a “pay as you go” basis (see: “When will I be paid if I take annual leave?”).

Identifying whether you’re a casual or permanent worker

If there’s doubt about whether you’re a casual or permanent employee, the key factors in deciding this will be how regular and how continuous the work is. This can be assessed by looking at both of the following:

  • Your employment agreement – Does it include terms that are inconsistent with casual employment? For example, it may require you to take work when it’s offered, or stop you from working for other employers, or require you to tell your employer when you’re not available for work.
  • The behaviour of the two parties – Has this created a fair and reasonable (“legitimate”) expectation that more work will be offered, or that it will be accepted if it’s offered? For example, if you’ve been working a regular 30-hour week for six months, you might have a legitimate expectation of further work.

Whether you’re a casual employee or permanent employee will depend on what is actually happening in your employment relationship, just the words that you and your employer have used to describe it. If your work is regular and ongoing, it is more likely that you’re a permanent employee.

If your employer calls you a “casual” employee but you’re wondering if you might really be a permanent employee, you can get advice from your union or local Community Law Centre.

Note:   If you’re a casual employee and you’ve accepted an offer of work, an employment relationship now exists. This means your boss can’t just cancel the shift last minute, and you have the same rights as other employees around pay and breaks for that shift. But, your employer doesn’t have to keep giving you shifts if they don’t want to, because the employment relationship is still casual.

Next Section | Fixed-term agreements

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Starting and leaving a job

Where to go for more support

Community Law

Your local Community Law Centre can provide you with free initial legal advice.

Find your local Community Law Centre online: www.communitylaw.org.nz/our-law-centres

Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment

The Employment website of the Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment publishes a range of information on employment relations and minimum rights at work.

Website: www.employment.govt.nz
Phone: 0800 20 90 20
Starting a job: www.employment.govt.nz/starting-employment/
Leaving a job: www.employment.govt.nz/ending-employment/

Te Kauae Kaimahi/
New Zealand Council of Trade Unions

Te Kauae Kaimahi is the umbrella body for affiliated unions covering every job and industry in New Zealand. It can provide information about which union may cover the type of work you do.

Website: www.union.org.nz
Email: info@nzpc.org.nz
Phone: (04) 385 1334

New Zealand Prostitutes Collective

The New Zealand Prostitutes Collective is a nationwide organisation run by sex workers for sex workers. They provide information and services for people who are doing sex work or thinking about doing sex work.

Website: www.nzpc.org.nz
Email: info@nzpc.org.nz
Phone: 04 382 8791
Instagram: www.instagram.com/_nzpc/

Union Network of Migrants (UNEMIG)

UNEMIG or Union Network of Migrants is an association of migrant workers within FIRST Union.

Website: www.unemig.org.nz
Email: unemig@firstunion.org.nz 
Phone: 0800 863 477

Migrant Workers Association

The Migrant Workers Association NZ fights for migrant workers’ rights and against injustice and exploitation in the workplace.

Website: migrantworkers.org.nz
Email: help@migrantworkers.org.nz
Phone: 0800 863 477
Facebook: www.facebook.com/migrantworkersassociationaotearoa/

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