Casual employment (i.e. hourly or daily non-permanent employment) is common throughout all industries in Australia. In a casual employment relationship, the employee gets paid an additional ‘loading’ (usually 25%) on their wages to compensate for the lack of leave entitlements and other benefits which a permanent employee would receive.

While casual employment is a substantial feature of the Australian industrial landscape, it is also an increasingly complicated feature. In particular, any organisation with an Australian workforce must be aware of the following two developments regarding casual employment.

Firstly, in a landmark decision, the Full Court of the Federal Court of Australia determined that an employee was not truly ‘casual’, in spite of the terms of the employee’s ‘casual’ contract of employment. The Court reached this conclusion by examining the actual pattern of work undertaken by the employee. As a consequence, the Employer was required to pay the employee for annual leave entitlements (which the employee should have received as a permanent employee), and was also required to pay an additional monetary penalty.

Secondly, ‘casual conversion’ clauses have been inserted into all Industrial Awards made by the Federal Fair Work Commission. This means that many casual employees now have a right to request conversion from casual employment to permanent employment. Employers are required to inform their casual employees of this right, or else may face penalties.

For more specific advice on this topic, or regarding any aspect of labour law or industrial relations in Australia, please contact Sathish Dasan on +61 8 8210 1221 or, or Chris Alexandrides on +61 8 8210 1299 or