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Are you looking to hire an extra pair of hands to help you get through the busy Christmas and New Year period?

Before you take on any staff, it’s important to understand:

  • what is considered to be a casual employee
  • your obligations as an employer
  • the correct wage entitlements

What is a casual employee?

A casual employee is someone who only works on an ‘as needs’ basis. While there is no set definition of what a casual employee is, they are generally regarded as someone who:

  • doesn’t have guaranteed or regular working hours
  • doesn’t receive entitlements like sick leave or annual leave
  • is not required to provide a minimum notice period before leaving their employment (unless specified in the relevant award)
  • is entitled to a higher rate of pay due to the lack of job security and leave entitlements.

If you get to the end of the festive season and decide you would like to keep your casual staff, you can change them to full or part-time employment at any time, if both sides agree.

Read our overview on the different types of employment to find out if hiring a casual staff member is right for your business.

Tip: Some awards will also include a casual conversion clause where the employee can apply to be converted from casual to permanent if they have been working for you for 12 months.

Your obligations as an employer

When it comes to hiring Christmas casuals it’s important to remember:

  • their pay must include any set-up or pack-down time at the start or end of their shift
  • an employment contract should be signed by you and the employee
  • unpaid trial periods for employees are illegal.

Read our employer obligation for more information.

Knowing the correct wage entitlement

There are two industrial relations systems operating in Western Australia. The system that applies to you will depend on how your business was set up.

The national system will apply if you have an incorporated business (such as a ‘Pty Ltd’ or ‘Ltd’). If you are under this system, the Fair Work Ombudsman can provide details on paying employees and the correct wage entitlements.

The state system applies to sole traders, unincorporated partnerships and some trusts. If you’re under the state system, you can contact Wageline.

Recruiting and managing casual staff

With dozens of vacancies for Christmas casuals already being advertised, if you are looking to bring some additional staff on board, now is the time to act. If recruitment is new to you, or you would like some pointers on how to effectively manage the process, read our tips on hiring your first employee and how to handle job applications.

Tip: You can use the taking on an employee checklist on the business.gov.au website to help guide you through the legal requirements or hiring employees.

More information

Read our section on employing staff for more information or contact our free business advisory service to speak to one of our business advisers about hiring staff or any other area of business you need help with.

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