There are three primary types of employment; full-time, part-time and casual. There are some common employee rights and entitlements that are shared across all three types of employment, however, a casual employee has fewer rights and entitlements than full-time and part-time employees. This blog explores the key differences between each type of employment.
Employment relationships in Australia are governed by the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) (the FW Act). The laws set by the FW Act are designed to protect the rights of workers and ensure that employers are fulfilling their obligations towards their employees.
Employment rights in Australia cover a wide range of issues, including:
- minimum wages;
- working hours;
- leave entitlements (including annual leave, sick/carers leave, parental leave and long service leave);
- discrimination and harassment;
- workplace safety; and
- termination of employment.
Employment rights in Australia are designed to ensure that workers are treated fairly and equitably and that their contributions to the workplace are recognised and rewarded.
Full-time employee rights and entitlements
Full-time employees can be employed on a permanent or fixed-term contract basis.
Hours of work for full-time employees
On average, a full-time employee works 38 hours per week. The hours of work a full-time employee is required to work will depend upon the contract agreed upon between the employer and employee or the award or registered agreement.
Leave entitlements for full-time employees
Wages and penalty rates for full-time employees
A full-time employee is entitled to be paid a minimum wage, as well as any applicable penalty rates for working outside normal hours or on a public holiday. If a worker is covered by an award, the penalty rates applicable to their role will be specific in that award.
Other rights for full-time employees
Full-time employees also have the right to flexible working arrangements, such as working from home or part-time work, if it is necessary to accommodate their caring responsibilities or other personal circumstances.
In terms of workplace safety, all employees, including full-time employees, have the right to a safe and healthy work environment, and employers are required to take steps to prevent accidents and injuries in the workplace.
Part-time employee rights and entitlements
Part-time employees can be employed on a permanent or fixed-term contract basis.
Hours of work for part-time employees
Part-time employees work less than 38 hours per week and, generally speaking, their hours are regular each week.
Leave entitlements for part-time employees
Part-time employees are entitled to pro-rata paid annual leave, sick leave and personal/carer's leave, parental leave and paid family and domestic violence leave.
Wages for part-time employees
Part-time employees are entitled to the same minimum wage as full-time employees, calculated on a pro-rata basis based on their hours of work. As with full-time employees, part-time employees may be eligible to receive applicable penalty rates for working outside normal hours or on public holidays, depending on the award they are covered by.
Other rights for part-time employees
Part-time employees have the right to request flexible working arrangements, such as changes to their work hours or the option to work from home if it is necessary to accommodate their caring responsibilities or other personal circumstances.
Part-time employees are also protected by workplace health and safety laws and have the right to a safe and healthy work environment.
Casual employee rights and entitlements
Casual employment is a common form of employment in Australia, particularly in the hospitality and retail industries.
Hours of work for casual employees
A casual employee is generally an employee who works hours as needed by their employer. A casual employee is not guaranteed hours, nor are they provided with regular hours each week.
Leave entitlements for casual employees
Casual employees are not entitled to paid annual leave or sick leave, however, they are entitled to two days of unpaid carer's leave and two days unpaid compassionate leave per occasion. Casual employees are also entitled to family and domestic violence leave.
Wages for casual employees
To make up for the lack of paid leave, casual employees are entitled to casual loading. Casual loading is an additional payment on top of their base hourly rate to compensate for the lack of leave entitlements.
Other rights for casual employees
Casual employees are entitled to request flexible working arrangements like full-time and part-time employees.
As with full-time and part-time employees, casual employees are entitled to a safe and healthy work environment.
After 12 months of regular and systematic employment, a casual employee is entitled to make a request to their employer to be converted from a casual to a permanent employee in certain circumstances. Those circumstances have been addressed in our earlier blog, "Employee rights to convert from casual to permanent employment".
Family and domestic violence leave
In early 2023, family and domestic violence leave was added to the National Employment Standards (NES) as a minimum leave entitlement for all employment types.
An employee of a small business (15 employees or less) is entitled to 5 days of unpaid leave per year until 1 August 2023, and, from 1 August 2023, they are entitled to 10 days paid leave per year.
Employees of larger businesses are entitled to 10 days paid leave per year.
Full-time and part-time employees will be paid the same amount they would be as if they were working. Casual employees will be paid at the full pay rate for the hours they were rostered to work during the period in which they took the leave.
You can read more detail in our earlier blog, "Paid family and domestic violence leave entitlements from 2023".
You can also read more information about employee rights and entitlements in this Fair Work Information Statement that provides detail on the minimum standards an employee is entitled to under their employment; whether that is full-time, part-time or casual.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.