Casual employment or contract employment is an employment classification under employment law.


In Australian workplace law whereby an employee is paid at a higher hourly rate (usually 25%) in lieu of having their employment guaranteed, and lacking other usual full-time employment conditions such as sick leave.[1] 28% of all Australian workers were employed on a casual basis in 2003.[2]

Employers often contact casual employees regularly from week to week to supplement their normal workforce as needed. As there is no expectation in a casual work contract between employee and employer of ongoing work, employees can legally refuse any specific work opportunity. The government defines Casual employees as those from whom regular work is not expected, they are not bounded by any legal body and can at their convenience switch places they work at.[3][4]

Under various workplace awards, employment classification can change if a certain number of hours is worked in a particular time frame.[3]

New Zealand

In New Zealand, casual employees are guaranteed either annual leave pro-rata, or 8% holiday pay on top of earnings. Casual employment contracts lack sick leave and guaranteed work hours.

In Jinkinson v Oceana Gold (NZ) Ltd, the Employment Court of New Zealand ruled that:

The distinction between casual employment and ongoing employment lies in the extent to which the parties have mutual employment related obligations between periods of work. If those obligations only exist during periods of work, the employment will be regarded as casual. If there are mutual obligations which continue between periods of work, there will be an ongoing employment relationship"[5]

Under Lee v Minor Developments Ltd t/a Before Six Childcare Centre (2008), the Employment Court outlined the following characteristics as those the courts use to assess whether employment is casual:[6]

In 2008, the Fourth Labour Government proposed the strengthening of casual employment rights.[7] However, they were voted out of office later during the year.

United Kingdom

The UK Government defines casual employment as the following:[8]

See also


  1. ^ Department of Consumer and Employment Protection, Government of Western Australia Archived 2008-11-25 at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ Parliamentary Library, Department of Parliamentary services
  3. ^ a b DOCEP, Government of Western Australia
  4. ^ "How is a full-time employee different to a part-time employee?".
  5. ^ Jinkinson v Oceana Gold (NZ) Ltd [2009] CC 9/09 CRC 4/08.
  6. ^ Am I a casual employee?
  7. ^ Stronger Protections for Casual and Temp Workers. Beehive.
  8. ^ Employee status. UK Government.