Is Casual Employment Really Casual Employment?

By 27 May 2020General
casual or full-time employment

A recent decision of the Federal Court has blurred the lines between permanent and casual employment with a casual worker being found to be eligible for entitlements usually reserved for permanent employees.

Around 20 per cent of Australian workers are engaged as casuals. As a result of this casualisation of the workforce many workers are now in a situation where they are working full time hours on singular or multiple contracts of employment without the security or benefits of full time on-going employment.

Casual employees are not generally entitled to paid personal leave, annual leave, or for public holidays when not worked. In consideration for not being eligible for these entitlements casuals are supposed to be paid a higher hourly pay rate than a permanent employee.

However, there have now been two cases Workpac v Skene and Workpac v Rossato which have examined and determined that just because an employer says an employee is a casual in a contract of employment does not mean that the employee is actually a casual. In each of these cases the courts found that the two employees were not casuals.

These cases were in relation to a labour hire company however, the rulings are not limited to labour hire company employees and the principles can be applied to the facts of any casual employment.

In order to consider whether a casual employee is really a casual employee some of the facts which are now necessary to look at are:

  • how the rate of pay is set out in a contract of employment and whether it specifies a separate casual loading rate;
  • whether the pay rate is in accordance with relevant casual rates provided by the applicable modern award or enterprise agreement;
  • the commitment given by the employer to the providing work and whether this work was stable, regular and predicable;
  • the length of time the employee has been working with the employer;
  • whether there was regular rostering; and
  • where there is an ongoing contract or a number of contracts.

If there is no written contract of employment the same principles can still be applied.

The current legislation and the current rulings in the Workpac cases may give some employees, the right to be correctly classified as permanent employees and be paid or back paid statutory leave entitlements, though it is noted that Commonwealth has signalled that it may look at amending the legislation on which the Workpac rulings are based.

Should you think that your casual employment might be permanent employment please contact us for a free case evaluation.