Types of Employment

What's the difference between full-time and piece-work employees and everything else in between? It's important to know the difference so that you can have a combination of staff that best suits your business.

There are a variety of employment types that you can offer new staff including full time, part time, casual, fixed term employment, traineeships and apprenticeships.


Full-time employees work on a regular weekly basis and are expected to work a full week.


Part-time employees usually work on a regular ongoing basis. They are paid on a pro rata basis. They are entitled to the following:

  • annual, personal, sick leave and carer's leave;
  • to be paid for public holidays falling on days on which they would otherwise be working; and
  • long service leave and bereavement leave.

If your employees are covered by an award you should check it to make sure that you fulfil your legal obligations. You can check Western Australian awards at the Department of Commerce and the national awards at Fairwork Award Finder.


Casual employees are employed on an irregular basis as needed. They can work as many hours as agreed (between the employer and the employee). They:

  • have no expectation of ongoing employment;
  • are free to refuse offers of work;
  • are paid a loading (a minimum of 20 per cent, but some awards provide for a higher loading), but no personal or sick leave or annual leave entitlement;
  • are entitled to unpaid bereavement leave; and
  • are entitled to long service leave (conditions apply).

Remember that if an employee works regular hours and days, then it is likely that they are a part-time or full-time employee and should be treated accordingly. You should also note that paying an hourly rate does not itself make the employee a casual.

If your employees are covered by an award you should check it to make sure that you fulfil your legal obligations. You can check Western Australian awards at the Department of Commerce and the national awards at Fairwork Award Finder.

Fixed term or contract

Fixed term or contract employees are hired for a fixed period of time, for example, for a specific project, or to replace an employee on sick leave or parental leave.

You should provide the employee with an agreement in writing that sets out the length of the employment contract. Fixed term employees are entitled to the same annual, personal and other leave entitlements as full-time employees, but on a proportional basis for the period of their employment.

Apprenticeships and traineeships

Apprentices are generally training to be tradespeople, while trainees are generally learning the skills of a non-trade occupation. Both involve:

  • a registered training agreement;
  • practical work;
  • learning skills on and off the job; and
  • rates of pay covered by an award or agreement, or the Minimum Conditions of Employment Act 199 3 or the Fairwork Act 2009.

Both apprenticeships and traineeships lead to a nationally recognised qualification. In Western Australia , apprenticeships and traineeships must be registered with the Department of Training and Workforce Development or the West Australian ApprentiCentre.

For more information about government incentives and hiring an apprentice or trainee visit the Australian Apprenticeships website or the West Australian ApprentiCentre.

Probationary period

You can use a probationary period to make sure a new employee is suitable for the job.

To comply with the law when using a probationary period, or dismissing a probationary employee, first check the probationary work information under Labour Relations on the Department of Commerce website.

Piecework and commission only payment

Some employees, rather than being paid a wage or salary, are paid by:

  • piece work – the paying of a set amount for completing a specific task
  • commission – the paying of a percentage for each sale made 
  • retainer plus commission - the paying of a fixed amount plus commission.

Employees in the WA state system paid wholly by commission, percentage reward or piece rates are not covered by the Minimum Conditions of Employment Act 1993 (WA).

If the employees are covered by a state award, they may only be paid by commission or piece work if the award allows for this method of payment.

In the national workplace relations system, payment must meet the minimum rate of pay which is set in the Australian Fair Pay and Conditions Standard. For more information visit the Fair Work website

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