Long-Term Casual Employees: Rights and Obligations in 2023

by WRA

Understanding Long-Term Casual Employee Rights

What is a Casual Employee?

The term “casual employee” refers to an employment arrangement in which an employee works on an irregular, as-needed basis with no guaranteed hours or job security. Casual employment is prevalent in industries where employers require a flexible workforce to manage fluctuating workloads. In this arrangement, employees are often paid a higher hourly rate to compensate for the lack of entitlements that come with permanent employment.

What is a Long-term Casual Employee?

A long-term casual employee is a worker who is employed on a casual basis for a prolonged period of time (over at least twelve months), often several years, without being offered permanent employment. These employees work irregular hours and are typically called upon to work at short notice, without set hours of work or guaranteed shifts. As long-term casual employees do not receive the same entitlements and benefits as permanent employees, it is important to understand their unique employment rights under Australian workplace law.

The Current State of Casual Employment in Australia

The trends in casual employment in Australia show a steady increase over the past few decades, as of August 2021, the number of casual employees in Australia was close to 2.4 million, representing 22.5% of the total employed workforce. This increase can be attributed to a number of factors, including changes to workplace laws and the growth of industries that rely heavily on casual labour

However, the COVID-19 pandemic has also had a significant impact on casual employment, with many businesses forced to rely on casual employees to manage fluctuating workloads and maintain flexibility in their workforce. The trends in casual employment highlight the need for both employers and employees to understand the rights and obligations associated with casual employment and to ensure fair and equitable working relationships.

Rights of a Causal Employee

Understanding the rights of casual employees in the workplace is essential for both employers and employees. Here we provide an overview of the distinction between casual and permanent employment under Australian workplace law and the rights and entitlements of casual employees, including those who work on a long-term basis. By understanding these rights, casual employees can ensure they are being treated fairly in the workplace, and employers can fulfill their legal obligations.

Casual Permanent Employment Distinction Under Australian Workplace Law

Understanding the distinction between casual and permanent employment is essential for both employers and employees to ensure compliance with Australian workplace law. Casual employees do not have set hours of work or guaranteed shifts, and their employment can be terminated at short notice. In contrast, permanent employees have entitlements to paid leave, redundancy pay, and notice of termination. 

The Table below sets out a comparison of the key distinctions between casual employees and permanent employees in Australia:

Casual EmployeesPermanent Employees
Employment arrangementIrregularly scheduled with at-will termination.Regularly employed with standard entitlements, including paid leave.
Hourly pay rateHigher pay to offset fewer entitlementsLower hourly rate but entitled to leave and benefits
Leave entitlementsNo paid leave entitlements, but may get loading insteadEntitled to various types of paid leave
Notice of terminationNo notice entitlement, but may have it under some circumstancesUsually entitled to notice or payment in lieu upon termination
Job securityGenerally less job security than permanent employeesMore job security than casuals due to limited termination conditions

Overview of Casual Employment Rights and Entitlements

Under the Fair Work Act 2009 and the National Employment Standards (NES), casual employees possess specific entitlements annually, such as:

  • Two days of unpaid carer’s leave
  • Two days of unpaid compassionate leave for each event
  • Unpaid community service leave
  • Up to five days of unpaid family and domestic violence leave
Casual employee entitlements

As a result of their extended tenure as casual employees, long-term casuals are eligible for additional benefits or limitations, such as:

  • Flexible work arrangements
  • Unpaid parental leave
  • The right to request a permanent contract after working for twelve months
  • Regardless of their tenure, casual employees are not entitled to paid leave or notice of termination
Long-term Casual Employees Benefits & Limitations

Long-term Casual Employment Employer Obligations

Employers who engage long-term casual employees have a range of obligations under Australian workplace law. The obligations include long-term casual employment contracts, compliance with the Casual Conversion Clause, and record-keeping requirements. Understanding these obligations is crucial for employers to comply with their legal responsibilities and avoid potential legal action and penalties.

Obligations of Long-term Casual Employment Contract

Employers who engage long-term casual employees have a range of obligations under Australian workplace law. These obligations include ensuring that the long-term casual employment contract is unambiguous and outlining the terms and conditions of the employment arrangement. 

Employer Compliance with Casual Conversion Clause

Employers must also comply with the Casual Conversion Clause, which allows long-term casual employees to request conversion to permanent employment after 12 months of regular work. Employers must provide their long-term casual employees with information about their rights under this clause and ensure they are not unfairly denied the opportunity to convert to permanent employment.

Record-Keeping Obligations

Additionally, employers must maintain accurate records of their long-term casual employees’ work hours, wages, and entitlements and keep these records for at least seven years. Failure to comply with these obligations can result in legal action and penalties, which can be costly for employers and damage their reputation. As such, it is essential that employers understand and comply with their obligations under Australian workplace law when engaging long-term casual employees.

Final Reminder

Long-term casual employees are becoming increasingly prevalent in the Australian workforce. These employees have unique employment rights that need to be understood and protected. Understanding the distinction between casual and permanent employment under Australian workplace law, as well as the rights and entitlements of long-term casual employees, is crucial. It is also important to note that employers have obligations under workplace laws to ensure they are complying with their obligations.

Work Rights Australia is a reputable organization that provides a range of services to employees, including long-term casual employees. These services include legal advice, assistance with making a claim for underpaid wages or entitlements, representation in employment disputes, and support with negotiating better working conditions. Work Rights Australia also provides helpful resources and guides to help employees understand their rights and obligations under Australian workplace law. 

By utilizing the services and resources provided by Work Rights Australia, long-term casual employees can ensure they have the support and knowledge necessary to protect their employment rights and receive fair treatment in the workplace.


  1. Can a long-term casual employee convert to a permanent employee?

Certain modern awards and enterprise agreements allow long-term casual employees in Australia to request a conversion to permanent employment if they meet the specific conditions and timeframes set out in their relevant award or agreement (Usually within 21 days after the long-term casual employee’s 12-month anniversary). The right to request conversion does not automatically guarantee approval, but employers must provide a reasonable response and may only refuse the request on reasonable grounds. Disputes may be taken to the Fair Work Commission.

  1. Are long-term casual employees entitled to receive super?

In Australia, employers are obliged to make Superannuation Guarantee (SG) contributions for casual employees who satisfy specific requirements. If casual employees are over 18 years old and are not exempted, employers must pay a minimum of 10.5% super. Besides, if casual employees are under 18 years old, work a minimum of 30 hours weekly, and do not fall under any exemption, their employers must pay super for every week they work for 30 hours or more.

  1. Do long-term casual employees have the right to decline shifts?

Long-term casual employees have the right to decline shifts offered to them by their employer, but there may be specific conditions and limitations depending on the employee’s award, agreement, or workplace policy.

  1. Is it possible for a long-term casual employee to make an unlawful dismissal claim?

Long-term casual employees may be able to make an unlawful dismissal claim If they have a reasonable expectation of their employmentl, such as having worked for a minimum period of time and having a reasonable expectation of ongoing employment. However, it’s important to note that the specific eligibility criteria and requirements for unlawful dismissal claims may vary depending on the employee’s industry, occupation, and workplace circumstances.

  1. Are long-term casual employees entitled to extra pay for working on public holidays?

Long-term casual employees in Australia may be entitled to extra pay or penalty rates for working on public holidays, depending on their award, agreement, or employment contract. The entitlements for public holiday pay can vary depending on the industry, occupation, and the day and time of the public holiday. Generally, long-term casual employees receive a higher casual loading than short-term casual employees to compensate for their lack of permanent entitlements, such as paid leave, but they may also be eligible for additional penalty rates on top of their casual loading for working on public holidays.

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