There is nothing wrong with hiring a casual employee. They are great when you need a “temporary” solution. And that’s the way to look at them – as temps to fill a short-term gap.

Casual employees – a checklist

The hallmarks of a genuine casual employee include:

  • A short period of engagement for a specific reason
  • The lack of a regular work pattern
  • No expectation of ongoing work
  • The ability for the employee to say no to an offer of work

Myth busting

There is a myth that an employee is casual if they work fewer than 10 hours a week.
This simply isn’t the case – it’s all about their work patterns.

Let me give you a real-world example…

I have an after-school team member who works 3 hours a week, usually on Tuesdays and Thursdays. With this work pattern, she doesn’t meet the test of a casual employee because:

  • She has a regular work pattern
  • She can’t say no to working, as I have the expectation she will work every Tuesday and Thursday unless she is on leave

Just like the rest of my team, she is entitled to paid public holidays that fall on her usual work days, 4 weeks’ annual leave and (after 6 months) 10 days of sick leave, plus bereavement and family violence leave. A week of leave for her is based on her 3 hours a week.

Your responsibility as an employer

As an employer, you have the good faith responsibility to ensure your casual employee is genuinely casual. Just like any other employee, they are required to have an employment agreement.

It is common for an employee to genuinely be casual at the start of their employment, but so often they morph into being a permanent employee. That’s okay, but again, as the employer, you have a good faith duty to consult with your employee and put new terms in place that reflect the permanency of their employment.

There are consequences when an employer doesn’t get it right. The Labour Inspectorate has the ability to impose fines and order the employer to make back-dated provisions for leave not taken. The latter effectively means the employer pays leave twice.

If you are an employer with casual staff, take the time to review their working patterns. Make a diary note to run through the checklist above on a regular basis. If they no longer meet the test of a casual worker, take the appropriate steps to put new and relevant terms in place with your employee.

As always, if there’s something you are not sure of please give us a call on 07 823 3250.

Please note: This information is offered as a guide only and for any situation you may be facing we recommend that you obtain independent professional advice. Of course People in Mind can provide that advice – just call us or email us and we will be in touch.