Are my casual employees really casual?

Sometimes employees are genuinely employed as casuals to fill a short term vacancy, but go on to work regular and systemic hours without having the position formalised and reclassified. It may also be the case that an employee originally employed as a casual has actually become a temporary or even a permanent employee.

Most awards and agreements contain a definition for casual employees. It is always a good idea to check that your regular staff are classified correctly, including administration and cleaning staff, remembering that it is not an employee’s choice whether they are classified as casual. CCSA’ Member Support team explains here.

Casual employees: general employment information

Casual employees are paid a casual loading in lieu of accruing paid sick or annual leave. Casual staff are entitled to unpaid carer’s leave and unpaid compassionate leave as per the National Employment Standards, and can be granted unpaid community services leave. A casual employee can usually end their employment without notice, unless the award or agreement states otherwise.

An employee cannot choose to be casual if their position and pattern of work does not fit the award definition for such a classification.

CCSA members can contact us for assistance with correctly classifying their staff.

Casual employees: Children’s Services Award and Clerks – Private Sector Award

An employee engaged for genuinely temporary or relief purposes, for example to cover the absence of another employee on planned or unplanned leave, is classified as a casual employee.

The Children’s Services Award 2010 defines a casual employee as ‘one engaged for temporary and relief purposes’, while the Clerks –Private Sector Award 2010 says that ‘a casual employee is an employee engaged as such’.

Part-time employees: Children’s Services Award and Clerks – Private Sector Award

Both of these Awards describe part-time employees as those who work less than full time and have reasonably predictable hours of work. So if you have an employee who is employed on an ongoing basis (ie, not for a defined period of relief as outlined above) and who works reasonable set and regular hours, the employment status should be permanent or temporary, part-time. The position is not casual as the hours of work in this case are reasonably predictable.

Full time employees: Children’s Services Award and Clerks – Private Sector Award

In some cases, an employee will be required for genuinely temporary or relief purposes, on a full-time basis (eg, parental leave relief). In this case, the position will be a temporary full-time arrangement as again, the hours of work will be predictable.

Casual employees: Educational Services (Teachers) Award

The Educational Services (Teachers) Award 2010 outlines that ‘casual employment means employment on a day-to-day basis for a period of not more than four consecutive weeks, or four consecutive term weeks in the case of a teacher in a school or preschool’.


As a general rule, you can determine whether a staff member should be classified as a casual employee by looking at their pattern of work. A casual position is usually one that has irregular hours of work. Remember that even when a position is initially genuinely casual, these roles often become more set and regular, and so it is important to review employee classifications regularly.