Casual employees – common mistakes


With the Fair Work Ombudsman reporting a record number of workplace disputes (27,000 in 2016-17) and a 66% increase in fines, a shocking trend of non-compliance has emerged, particularly within the casual work arrangement. There are many assumptions about hiring, paying and dismissing casuals which employers often get wrong. It’s important for employers to realise that many of these basic errors are breaches of current workplace legislation and can result in expensive penalties.

Some of the common errors that employers make regarding casual employees are:


  • Assuming a flat hourly rate with 25% casual loading will satisfy all the requirements of the modern award, including overtime and penalties. It can be difficult to determine whether casual employees are eligible for overtime as many of the modern awards are unclear on payable overtime for casual workers.
  • Having a casual employee work on a ‘regular and systematic’ basis for 12 months or more. A common law court could decide that the worker is a permanent employee who must receive backpay of entitlements such as annual and sick leave.


Employers who are considering hiring casual employees should ensure they ask several important business questions about the benefits of hiring employees as casual workers, how much they will be paid, what hours they will work and whether they need to be made an offer of permanent employment. Employers should seek expert advice to minimise the risk to their business and avoid costly fines.

For advice regarding casual employees, please contact us on (08) 9316 9896 or



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