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.