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  • Jay Sharpe

Casual doesn't mean what you think it means

As businesses transition back to work or into recovery, it is timely to ensure that you are clear about your employment arrangements to ensure you are optimising engagement and performance as well as managing risk.


Misunderstandings are quite common about casual employment arrangements. Over the last few years, the federal court has consistently delivered judgements about casual employment that challenge employers’ practices. Here are a few common myths about casual employment:


Myth 1: Casual workers are not entitled to leave

The recent federal court decision about a casual employee’s eligibility to entitlements including paid leave is consistent with other findings that employment that involves rostered shifts well in advance and was "regular, certain, continuing, constant and predictable", should attract entitlements. While this decision may be challenged on appeal, it underlines the risk of usual casual employment contracts for someone with regular shifts.


Myth 2: You have flexibility to be able to change someone’s hours to suits the business.

If someone has had long-term regular hours, employers must consult with workers about any changes to hours including taking into consideration employee’s circumstances.


Myth 3: You can terminate someone’s employment or just stop giving them hours if you don’t need them.

Actually, unfair dismissal laws can apply where it is considered to be regular and systematic work.


The message is to avoid defaulting to casual because you think it might give you benefits that actually don’t apply. It can be an arrangement that suits both parties, remembering that true casual employment is typically not having rostered shifts, irregular times and the number of hours varying between time periods.


Similarly, when is a contractor not a contractor? The answer is, it can be complicated. The decision to class an arrangement as contracting requires investigation into issues such as who directs the work and if the contractor does work for other people. Some considerations include:

• Does the person do work on their own behalf for their own business?

• Can the person doing the work decide how, when, where the work is done?

• Does the person advertise their services to other businesses?

• Can the work be delegated or subcontracted?


The message again is to be sure you know what the implications are for different employment arrangements. And, of course, if you need some quick advice, we can help you out.

The above information is intended as general information only and not as professional advice. If you need further guidance, please don’t hesitate to contact us via email below or on 1300 135 782

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