What are the characteristics between the different forms of employment in Australia?

by The FindLaw Team

Employment in Australia may take many forms that can include full-time, part-time, casual or via labour hire arrangements. There are a number of distinguishing characteristics of each type of employment which this piece will outline.  

Full-time employees

Full-time or permanent employees are generally contracted to work at least 38 hours per week and the contract of employment is usually ongoing. Full-time employees also receive the following benefits:

  • paid personal/carer’s leave, holiday pay, and sick leave just to name some benefits;
  • mandatory minimum notice requirements if their contract of employment is terminated, and redundancy payment in the case of redundancy;
  • redundancy pay if the workplace employs at least 15 employees.


Part-time employees

Generally speaking, those who are considered as part-time employees will usually work less than 38 hours and the contract of employment is usually ongoing. Additionally, the weekly hours for part-time employees usually remain the same. Finally, benefits for part-time employees are the same as for full-time employees, however, the benefits are calculated on a pro-rata basis.

Casual employees

The hallmark of casual employment is that the hours of work are irregular, and there are no expectations or certainties when it comes to weekly hours, designated shifts or employment that is ongoing. Theoretically speaking, casual employees are only hired for the duration of their shift, and they also do not enjoy the same entitlements as full or part-time employees. However, with that being said, casual employees may be paid at a higher hourly rate which is known as casual loading.

One of the things to bear in mind when talking about casual employment, is that there are no expectations for regular work hours, and designated shifts.

Labour hire

Labour hire arrangements usually refer to a person being employed by a firm, who then sends the worker to perform work for a client agency. The client agency will pay the relevant fees to the firm.

In relation to pay, the worker will be paid by the firm even though they are undertaking work for a client agency, and any entitlements owed to the worker will also be paid by the firm.

Some workers may also be deemed as independent contractors, which mean they are neither an employee for the firm or a client agency, and can be referred to as labour hire workers.

We should take the opportunity to make a distinction between those undertaking labour hire arrangements and recruitment services. Recruitment service agents will find a worker for a client organisation, with the prospect that the worker will be offered a contract with the client organisation. If the worker is offered a contract with the client organisation, the agent will receive a fee. It’s important to note that in such instances, the worker is at no time employed by the recruitment organisation.


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