Home - 3 things you wanted to know about casuals

UpdatesOct 27, 2017

3 things you wanted to know about casuals

A compilation of 3 Q&A’s about casual employment

5 mins read

TODAY we delve into the Workplace Helpdesk inbox to answer your questions about casual employees – just in time for Christmas! Or at least, Christmas casual season.

You asked about inductions, rostering and parental leave – and our answers are below.

 

TODAY we delve into the Workplace Helpdesk inbox to answer your questions about casual employees – just in time for Christmas! Or at least, Christmas casual season.

You asked about inductions, rostering and parental leave – and our answers are below.

Your questions answered: Do we need to pay casual workers for their induction?

 

Q
 
We put new casual employees through a 1-hour induction prior to them commencing employment with our company.

 

Do we need to pay the employees for this induction?

 

A
 
In short, yes employees should be paid for induction time. It is essential that every new employee receives an adequate inductions from their employer. For example, employers are legally obliged to provide new employees with an overview of the workplace health and safety protocols (including fire and evacuation procedures), in order to comply with work health and safety laws.

 

Moreover, it simply makes sense for an employer to ensure that every new employee is well-informed, welcomed and equipped to be productive in their new employment. They should be provided with:

  • an overview of the business;
  • an explanation of the employee’s role and responsibilities;
  • an explanation of the business’s policies and procedures, including the hours of operation, the dress code and payroll; and
  • a tour of the workplace and introductions to other employees.

A worker’s employment will generally have commenced with your organisation in order to receive such an induction.

Having commenced employment, the employee is entitled to be paid at their ordinary hourly rate in accordance with any applicable industrial instrument (or in accordance with their contract of employment if they are not covered by an enterprise agreement or modern award) for the time taken to provide them with the induction.

Therefore, in our view, your organisation is legally obliged to pay each new employee for the time spent undertaking an induction.

A related issue is that, in certain limited circumstances, a person may be lawfully asked by an employer to perform an unpaid work trial in order to evaluate and determine their suitability for a vacant position provided that trial is short and strictly limited to a reasonable evaluation of the necessary skills of the job and not to any productive benefit to the employer.

Getting this wrong can present serious risks to employers so you should always seek advice about any unpaid trial.



Your questions answered: Can we refuse to let casual employees skip shifts?



 

Q
 

We are in the hospitality industry. When a casual employee requests time off, is it acceptable to refuse this if our policies and procedures are not followed? There are busy days and periods where time off is difficult.

 

A
 
The key point to remember with casual employees (even those who may work on a regular and systematic basis) is that they are employed on a ‘shift-by-shift’ basis. This means that there is no ongoing employment relationship outside of the time when the employee is actually engaged to work.

 

It is for this reason that casual employees receive a casual loading of 25 per cent, which is paid in compensation for ‘annual leave, personal/carer’s leave, notice of termination, redundancy benefits and the other entitlements of full-time or part-time employment’ (pursuant to the Hospitality Industry (General) Award 2010, which is likely to apply to your employee).

Casual employees do not have to request time off – they are able to simply advise you that they are unable to work on a specified day.

Similarly, you can decide (at your discretion) when and whether to offer future shifts to casual employees. This is the nature of casual employment.

Having said this, it is reasonable for you to request that your employees (including your casual employees) provide you with fair notice of their future availability for rostering purposes. If you are dissatisfied with an employee’s conduct in this regard, you can alert them to the existing policy and remind them of your expectations.

You are able to rely on your existing policy and refuse the employee’s request not to work on a specific day. However, this may not alter the employee’s position on the matter. Ultimately, while the employee may choose not to work on a given day, you are able to choose which of your employees you will offer shifts to in future.



Your questions answered: What parental leave applies to casuals and fixed-term employees?



Q
 

 In terms of unpaid parental leave, how are permanent staff treated relative to casuals and fixed-term employees? With the latter, what happens if they finish their term of employment while they are still on leave?

 

A
 
Long-term casuals are entitled to the same unpaid parental leave as permanent staff – 12 months of leave after 12 months of service. It’s different for employees engaged on ‘fixed-term’ or ‘maximum-term’ employment contracts.

 

They have the same 12-month threshold for parental leave entitlement, but it will depend on the specific nature of the employment contract and any relationship between the employee and the employer prior to the current term. If it was just for one fixed or maximum period of time, the contract ends and so does the employment relationship, as well as any parental leave arrangements.

If a person has been cycling through a succession of fixed-term or maximum-term contracts, this could be different, and you may need to treat their absence as that of a permanent employee. This will depend on the exact nature of the employment situation and you should seek specific legal advice if this is the case.

 

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