There are a number of ways you can employ staff and it’s important that you understand the correct wage and leave entitlements for each arrangement. 

Full-time and part-time employees

Full-time employees work on a regular basis for an average of 38 hours per week. An employee’s actual hours of work are agreed between the employer and the employee, and/ or are set by an award or registered agreement.

Full-time employees are entitled to the following leave:

  • annual, personal, sick, and carers;
  • bereavement or compassionate;
  • parental; and
  • long service

They are also entitled to public holiday pay if the holiday falls on a day they would usually work.

Part-time employees usually work less than 38 hours per week and generally have regular hours. They receive the same wages and conditions as full-time employees on a proportionate or pro-rata basis, according to the hours they work.

Casual employees

Casual employees are engaged on an irregular basis according to business demands and have:

  • no expectation of ongoing work;
  • no obligation to accept offers of work;
  • a loading paid on top of their hourly rate of pay;
  • no sick or annual leave pay; and
  • no obligation to provide notice of ending their employment, unless this is a requirement of an award, employment contract or registered agreement.

In some circumstances, casual employees may be eligible for long service leave and parental leave after being employed for 12 months.


If your business operates within the national industrial relations system, industrial relations reforms for casual employees came into effect during 2021.

Fixed term and contract employees

You can employ someone on a fixed term or contract basis for an agreed length of time or to perform a specific task; to work on a particular project or to replace an employee on leave, for example.

Fixed term employees can work full or part-time and are entitled to the same leave entitlements as permanent staff but on a pro-rata basis, depending on the length of employment.

Negotiate the length of employment before the employee starts working and include this in a written agreement.

Employee or contractor?

It’s important to know the difference between what the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) sees as an employee and a contractor to ensure you are meeting your tax and super obligations.

Apprentices and trainees

Apprentices and trainees may be suitable for your business. They are working towards a nationally recognised qualification and must be formally registered, usually through a contract between a registered training provider, the employee and you.

You must pay apprentices and trainees according to their award or registered agreement.

For more information contact your local Apprenticeship Network provider.


You are not required to pay payroll tax on the wages of registered apprentices and trainees during their training contract.

Commission and piece rate employees

You can pay piece rates or commission payments to employees in certain circumstances. This means that you pay them based on the results they achieve instead an hourly or weekly pay rate. You may employ people in this arrangement if:

  • their award or agreement allows for it; or
  • they are award and agreement free.

Requirements vary for this arrangement depending on which industrial relations system you belong to. It is advisable to seek assistance from Wageline or the Fair Work Ombudsman before entering into this arrangement.

Migrant and overseas workers

If you’re unable to find employees locally, you could consider hiring migrant or overseas based workers. When hiring an overseas worker, the available options are:

  • employing a visa holder who is already in Australia and has permission to work, such as a working holiday visa holder or an international student.
  • sponsoring a skilled worker who lives overseas or is temporarily in Australia with a work visa.

Migrant workers have the same workplace rights as Australian workers, including the same award and superannuation payments.

Visit the Department of Home Affairs website to find out how to hire a visa holder already in Australia and how to sponsor an overseas worker.

More information

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