Casual employment, like any other employment, is regulated by the Employment Relations Act and the Holidays Act. Casual employees have the same, or similar rights, in relation to employment agreements, holidays, and sick or bereavement leave as those in regular-type employment.
There is no legal definition of “casual employee”, however the term is normally applied to employees who work on an as required basis.
A written employment agreement must be provided to casual employees by their employer, even if the work is only for three days at a rock festival. If your employment is for a fixed term, for example over the university summer holidays, your employment agreement must also state the reason that your employment is fixed term.
Like all employees, casual employees are entitled to four weeks’ paid annual leave, in addition to public holidays, for every year of employment.
However, if you are employed on a fixed term contract for a period less than 12 months, or if you have casual work that is so intermittent and irregular, it is impractical for your employer to give you those four weeks’ paid annual leave, your employer may treat annual leave differently. In this case most employers will include holiday pay (8% on top of your pay) into your pay packet, and identify this separately on your pay slip. Your employer may only do this if it is a term of your employment agreement.
If you are a permanent employee rostered, say, 20 hours every fortnight, you should not be paid with the 8% calculation. Instead, you should get the four weeks’ annual leave.
For employers, it is important to be aware that your employees’ work patterns may change. If your employee has been working at odd times and then their hours become more regular, you may no longer be allowed to pay holiday pay regularly (the 8%). In that situation, your workers should go onto the four weeks’ annual holiday regime. Also, be aware that if you have paid an employee using the 8% calculation when you were not entitled to, the employee may be entitled to four weeks' annual leave on top of the 8% already received.
A casual employee who works on a public holiday is entitled to be paid at time and a half. If they normally work on the day the holiday falls, they are also entitled to an alternative holiday (or “day in lieu”).
For example, Labour Day falls on a Monday. If you work regularly from Monday to Friday and then work on Labour Day you are entitled to be paid at time and a half and an alternative holiday. However, if you regularly work Tuesday to Saturday and then work on Labour Day, you are entitled to be paid at time and a half for working Labour Day but you are not entitled to a day in lieu.
If you do not work on a public holiday, say because your workplace closes that day, but it is a day you would otherwise work, you should still be paid for that day.
If you are a casual employee who only works on public holidays, you must be paid at time and a half; you are not entitled to an alternative holiday.
Sick and bereavement leave
Sick leave and bereavement leave entitlements are the same for all employees, whether you work regular hours or are a casual. However, you are only entitled to this leave if you have been with your employer six months or more.
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