Casual employment: what will it look like in the future?

Just when we thought the employment landscape couldn’t get any more complicated in 2020 the casual employment definition is being challenged. Employers have been thrown a curve ball with what constitutes being a casual employee.

The definition of casual employment is being tested and it is predicated that casual employment will no longer be as it currently stands.

Many businesses engage casual employees on a regular and systematic basis without a change in work patterns. Under the proposed changes this practice will no longer be allowed. If a business wishes to engage an employee with a consistent pattern of work they will need to be classified as a part-time or full-time employee. 

Casual employees are generally paid at least 25 per cent more than a permanent employee to offset any leave entitlements they would be entitled to. 

Part of this definition challenge includes whether or not casual employees should be entitled to these leave arrangements if they are working regular and systematic patterns of work. If this is the case, then the Fair Work Act deems that they are entitled and can effectively double dip. 

If this isn’t enough to comprehend, changes were made on 30 October 2020 to the majority of the awards to include a provision for overtime for casual employees. This is something that employers need to be mindful of as it came into effect from the first pay period after 20 November 2020.

The cost of having employees in businesses is multiplying. The cost of noncompliance is also growing. Knowing your obligations as an employer in Australia is becoming more complex by the minute. This year has seen several changes that relate to employment and it is the first of many to come. It is no wonder businesses owners are struggling to understand their responsibilities as an employer.

Casual employment has always been seen to be the ‘easy’ option for employers to engage staff – this is no longer going to be the case. Changing this mindset is also going to be difficult.

Franchisors with a large network of casual employment have to act now. They need to conduct HR audits, provide guidance to their franchisees on their obligations and educate the network. Just because there are tokenistic casuals in the workforce, the law doesn’t necessarily agree. 

Author: Jenna Paulin, managing director, Now Actually.