November 29, 2019
The Christmas and New Year period is a typically busy time in the hospitality and retail industry, meaning many small business owners may turn to casual employees to bolster their workforce and fill specific jobs.
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.
Fixed-term refers to someone you hire for a predetermined amount of time, for example, to cover someone on maternity leave or particular project. This can be 38 hours a week for a period of a year or only five hours a week for a total of two weeks.
The point is that the hours of employment are guaranteed for a specified period. At the end of that period, both parties understand that the engagement is terminated. For example, you may only be hiring someone for one month to give yourself time to find a permanent employee. Perhaps you are only hiring someone in December until the holiday season is over. It is important to clarify these terms in writing with your employee.
On the other hand, a casual employee is not guaranteed a certain number of hours. Nor are they obligated to be available for work. In other words, they will work for you when you need them and when they are willing. A genuine casual employee should have irregular hours.
During busy seasons, engaging employees on a casual basis will usually provide employers with the most flexibility in relation to fulfilling their resource requirements. Due to the nature of casual employment, casual employees generally have no guarantee of hours and can be called upon as required by the Employer.
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.
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 are unsure of whether your employee is a fixed-term or casual worker, contact us. There can be overlaps, which can make it confusing. We can also help you determine minimum casual rates of pay and come up with a fixed-term or casual worker agreement.
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