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Are your casual employees really casual?

Are your casual employees really casual?
10Sep2018

Do you know the difference between a casual employee and a non-casual employee? Learn what the Fair Work Ombudsman classifies as a casual employee and ensure you're compliant.

Casual employees can be seen as a low risk and flexible option for many businesses across different industries, and business owners tend to weigh up the cost benefit of having such employees as higher hourly rate vs no leave entitlements and no unfair dismissal claims.
 
Last week, the Full Federal Court handed down a decision that found that an employee in the case, while he worked regular hours, was entitled to annual leave. The matter which was heard was WorkPac Pty Ltd v Skene [2018] FCAFC 131. The employee (Mr Skene) was designated as a “casual” employee by WorkPac.
 
If you employ casual staff, it’s time to look at how you are approaching casual staff in your workplace.
 
According to Fair Work Australia, a casual employee:
 
  • Has no guaranteed hours of work;
  • Usually works irregular hours (but can work regular 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.
 

What you need to know

Due to this ruling, all businesses with casual employees, especially those who have been with them for longer than 12 months, need to take a closer look at their employees and their current practices to make sure that should such an issue ever arrive in their workplace, that they can be covered.

Other items worth considering are:
 
  • How long have your casual employees worked at the business? What are their hours of work over that period, and do those employees have regular or set hours of work?
  • Do you loosely use the term casual to all your staff members or certain members of staff? Make sure that those who you refer to as casuals are in fact casual employees as defined as true and correct. It’s easy to say a staff member is a casual for convenience, however it could come back to bite you later.
  • If you say they’re casual, you have to pay the casual loading on their hourly rate. You just can’t say they’re a casual and not pay it. Further, you need to make sure it is clearly stated to the employee that the rate includes casual loading.
  • Get your employment contracts drafted by a legal or HR professional. Don’t try and do it yourself to save money. The amount you spend on this could be the difference between having to pay out a costly annual leave claim or nothing at all.
 
Whether you have one or fifty casual employees, make the time to think about your obligations. It’s really not worth being a high risk when it comes to compliance, especially with industrial laws. The Fair Work Ombudsman offers heaps of advice to ensure you’re compliant. Once you’re on top of your employer obligations, Carbon Payroll can jump in and ensure your staff are paid on time, every time.
 
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