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Hiring and firing over Christmas

RecruitmentNovember 3, 2015

Hiring and firing over Christmas (Last Updated On: November 3, 2015)

The Christmas period is a particularly challenging time for businesses. This can particularly be the case  for businesses trading in the hospitality and retail industry due to the temporary increase in staffing levels that may be required during this peak period.

There are a few options available for businesses to consider depending on the individual requirements of the role. It is important for businesses to be aware of the advantages and disadvantages of each option in order to set the business up for success during this period. Each option is explored in further detail below.

Casual engagement

Engaging employees on a casual basis will usually provide employers with the most flexibility in relation to fulfilling their resource requirements. Casual employees generally have no guarantee of hours and can be called upon as required by the Employer.

Engaging employees as casuals can be a very attractive options for businesses that prioritise flexibility over cost. Additionally casuals are only required to be paid on public holidays if they are required to work.

Important limitations to be aware of include:

  • Casuals will attract a higher hourly rate in lieu of personal or annual leave entitlements;
  • Casuals engaged on a systematic and regular basis could have access to unfair dismissal remedies and long service leave;
  • Casuals are usually required to be engaged for a minimum period (e.g. 3 hours) per shift depending on the relevant award;
  • Some awards require a casual to be offered permanent (full-time/part-time) employment after a specific period of time (commonly 6 months); and
  • Casual employees can be difficult to retain and may be less committed to the business.


Fixed-term engagement

Engaging an employee for a fixed-term period (e.g. Christmas holiday period) may provide employers with a more cost efficient option (lower hourly rate than casuals) and attract a larger pool of potential employees due to the guarantee of hours over for a fixed period of time.

Employees may be engaged on a full-time or part-time basis under this option. Additionally employees engaged on a fixed-term basis are generally excluded from access to unfair dismissal, provided their employment is terminated at the end of the specified period.

Important limitations to be aware of include:

  • Fixed-term employees will be entitled to personal and annual leave on a pro rata basis;
  • Fixed-term employees rostered to work on a public holiday are generally required to be paid even if the business is not trading;
  • Part time employees are also often required to be engaged for a minimum period per shift under the relevant award; and
  • Continuously extending or rolling over a fixed-term contract of employment may risk the position being considered permanent.

Whichever option is most suitable for your business, it is important that the type of engagement is clearly documented in writing between both parties. Failing to clearly document the type of engagement in an employment contact could expose the business to potential claims.

If you would like any further advice on recruitment options during the busy Christmas holiday period please call our advice line on 1300 651 415. Or if you have a curly question you would like to ask me click here.

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