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Casual vs Part-Time Employees: What Are the Differences

Published June 14, 2023 (last updated on April 19, 2024) | Adam Wyatt - Content Writer

female bartender shakes cocktail shaker

If your business needs a helping hand and hiring a full-timer is too much of a commitment, it might be time to add a part-time or casual employee to your roster. Before you settle one of these staffing solutions, it’s best to understand the key differences and the advantages and disadvantages that come with hiring casual vs part-time employees.    

The basic differences

Casual employees 

Casual employment refers to a system of hiring employees on a work-as-needed basis. Employing casuals can help businesses meet their staffing needs throughout peak periods and with big one-off projects. 

Casual employees are given no advance commitment from an employer on the number of hours and work patterns they will receive, and their services can be terminated without notice. 

Part-time employees 

Part-time employees work less than 38 hours per week and are normally hired on a permanent basis. Sometimes part-time workers are employed on a fixed-term contract. 

While casual employees have irregular hours, part-time staff will often have set hours and work patterns that apply each week. 

Which industries hire casual & part-time employees? 

Any kind of role in any kind of industry can be performed on a part-time basis. The same is true of casual employment, although there are certain industries which favour the flexibility of casual employment arrangements. According to a Parliamentary report

  • Retail hires 19% of casual employees 

  • Hospitality hires 19% of casual employees 

  • Healthcare hires 10% of casual employees 

Small to medium-sized businesses regularly rely on casual employment, hiring 80% of the total Australian casual workforce. 

Examples of casual & part-time jobs 

Any job that requires less than full-time hours may be offered as a casual or part-time role. Some of the most common part-time and casual roles include: 

  • Waiter 

  • Bartender 

  • Barista 

  • Receptionist 

  • Retail Assistant 

  • Nurse  

Differences in pay

Casual workers are paid more than the normal hourly rate that full-time or part-time staff get paid in the same job. This is known as ‘casual loading’. Casual loading is normally set at 25%, although a modern award or enterprise agreement may stipulate a different amount. 

For example, a restaurant that pays a part-time waitress a minimum wage of $23.23 per hour will pay a casual waitress $29.04 per hour. 

Casual loading is often seen as compensation for the reduced paid entitlements and uncertainty of casual employment.

Do you hire casuals?

Do you know the essentials of casual employment, like casual loading? It can be tricky for business owners to keep up with entitlements for casual employees. Our FREE E-Guide covers all the basics of casual employment for small businesses.


Differences in hours

Casual employees are given no advance commitment about the number of hours they will receive. A casual employee’s work patterns are also irregular, with their weekly schedule changing depending on the employer’s needs. The casual can then either accept, refuse, or swap shifts. 

The maximum number of hours per week a casual employee can work in Australia is 38 hours, although they can potentially work more than 38 hours per week if the schedule is deemed reasonable. 

While casual employees have irregular hours and work patterns, a part-time worker will often have a fixed schedule.   

Part-time employees agree to a set number of hours when signing their employment agreement, meaning employers can only reduce or increase these hours by mutual agreement.   

Differences in leave entitlements

Part-time employees are entitled to all the benefits covered by the Fair Work Act (2009), such as paid annual leave, paid sick leave, paid personal leave and paid carer’s leave. All the same benefits that a full-time employee receives are given to a part time worker, but they are calculated on a pro-rata basis. 

While casual workers do not receive paid leave, they have basic leave entitlements that are covered by the National Employment Standards

  • Unpaid public holidays 

  • 2 days unpaid carer’s leave and 2 days unpaid compassionate leave per occasion 

  • 10 days unpaid family and domestic violence leave (in a 12-month period) 

  • Community service leave (except paid jury service) 

Casual employees who have worked for the same employer for 12 months need to be offered the option to convert to full-time or part-time employment. In this case, they will receive all the entitlements that come with a permanent contract.

The advantages & disadvantages of a casual employee 

Hiring casuals gives employers greater flexibility, allowing them to increase or decrease staffing levels on a basis of need. In a business where the demand for their product or service fluctuates, hiring casuals can be a practical solution. If the employer no longer needs their services, terminating a casual employee requires no notice or redundancy pay. 

The biggest disadvantage with hiring casuals is the increased rates of pay. Additionally, a casual worker can take as much unpaid leave as they like, whenever they like. Similarly, there is no guarantee a casual will choose to work the shifts an employer offers them.    

The advantages & disadvantages of a part-time employee 

Hiring part-time employees gives employers long-term solutions to their staffing needs, with fixed hours and work patterns. However, if the business’s needs change, the number of hours a part-time employee works can only be adjusted by mutual consent. 

While part-time employees are paid less per hour, they will need to be paid for all their leave entitlements, while any additional benefits they receive will also need to be financed. 

Should you hire a casual or part-time employee? 

When it comes to deciding whether to hire a part-time or casual employee, there is no right and wrong. Which of these arrangements works best for you will depend on the nature of your business. 

Remember – if you hire a casual employee but your needs increase, there’s nothing to stop you from offering them a part-time contract. Similarly, a part-time contract can always be upscaled to full-time if business is booming.

If you pick carefully from all the staffing options at your disposal, you should be able to build a flexible workforce that caters perfectly for your business’s needs. 

How can Employsure help?

Employsure has helped to build thousands of Australia’s best businesses. If you need trustworthy workplace relations or health and safety advice, our FREE 24/7 Advice Line is available to all Australian business owners. Call 1300651415 today to get all your questions answered. 

Please note this article is intended to offer general information only. Before adjusting your hiring policies, practices or procedures, be sure to seek advice from a professional Human Resources expert.

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