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Dismissing Casual Staff

Published 20 Nov 2020

The nature of a true and legitimate casual relationship between an employee and employer, is that the employer offers work/hours on an irregular basis to the casual employee, who can then choose to accept or decline the offered work/hours. There is no expectation of continuous work from either party. 

In the case of the casual employee falling sick, they will only be entitled to sick leave benefits if the ailment falls within the period that the casual employee is actually scheduled to work - following 6 months' service with the employer.

When a casual employee transgresses the rules and regulations of the employer, the employer is within their right to take disciplinary action against the casual employee. The employer must however follow exactly the same process they would if it were a permanent employee transgressing.

The rules and process must be identical for both issuing warnings and terminating employment regardless of the employment relationship status (permanent or casual).

As with everything involving employment law, each case should be assessed on its own merits. Where you have a pool of casual employees and you are intending not to engage with one of them anymore due to disciplinary or performance issues, you will have to follow the disciplinary process as the casual employee still has the right to a fair termination process.

However, if an employer no longer requires the services of a casual employee, there is no need to terminate the relationship. The employer would simply not offer the casual employee any further hours/work, and this is often the recommended solution to cease using casual staff rather than the more protracted and potentially risky disciplinary route. We do however recommend communicating such a decision with the employee.

Terminating staff is the most contentious and risk prone exercise for an employer potentially exposing the company to thousands of dollars in costs if they get even one step of it wrong, not to mention the cottage industry of vexatious personal grievances from employee advocates.

It is very important to correctly classify and treat an employee as a casual and then to offer them the correct agreement from the beginning. If not, when challenged, the employee is often classified as a permanent employee, with all the rights and benefits of a permanent employee from the outset.

If you are faced with any of the scenarios mentioned, we recommend that you talk to us first.

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