What is a Casual Employee?

Definition of a Casual Employee

A casual employee is a worker who has not been allocated or guaranteed a standard number of working hours on a weekly basis. An employer is not bound to provide a casual employee with work, though the majority of employers offer casual workers from a minimum of three hours up to forty hours per week.

Differences between Casual and Permanent work

Casual workers are not entitled to sick leave, annual leave, maternity leave and other forms of leave. The employer does not have to give formal notice to the employee if there is no work for the employee. In Australia, casual workers are compensated for not having these benefits by a higher rate of pay.

Superannuation for Casual Employees

The Australian Government has set a rule that all employees are entitled to superannuation, whether casual or permanent, at the rate of 9%. There are some instances where casual employees are not eligible for superannuation:

  • Workers over the age of 70
  • Workers under the age 18 and working 30 hours or less per week.
  • Employees paid less than $450 (before tax) in a calendar month.
  • Non-resident employees paid for work done outside Australia.
  • Employees who have elected not to receive superannuation guarantee support because their accumulated superannuation benefits are more than the pension reasonable benefit limit.
  • Employees temporarily working in Australia for an overseas employer and who are covered by a bilateral superannuation agreement.

Facts on Casual Employment

Currently casual employment is on the rise because it suits employers who hire and fire casuals with impunity.

In Australia, one in five, or 19% of Australian workers were casual employees in November 2011 according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). This represents just under 2.2 million people.

Casual employees are more likely to be in ‘low status’ groups, tend to be more disadvantaged in the labour market and have higher levels of financial strain and lower levels of financial and job satisfaction (Sandra Buchler, 2007, University of Queensland).

According to the ABS Cat. No.4102.0, 2005, the highest proportion of people in casual employment work in the hospitality industry (accommodation, cafes and restaurants). Other industries that figure highly in casual employment include agriculture, retail and cultural/ recreational services.


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