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Employment Types – What’s the difference and what entitlements do you have to provide under the National Employment Standards?

There is often confusion around the different employment types and exactly what they are entitled to under the NES so we thought we could provide some clarity around the matter to assist.

Each type of employee receives different entitlements. It’s important to point out that we are basing our information on the National Employment Standards which are the minimum standards that employees in Australia are entitled to, so if your business is covered by an Award or Enterprise Agreement, check that there are no additional entitlements or provisions stipulated in there.

There are 3 main types of employees that most businesses will hire:

  • full time
  • part time
  • casual

So, what are the NES entitlements and how does that vary for each employee type?

Maximum weekly hours of work

A full time employee works 38 hours a week, plus reasonable additional hours. The hours of work are agreed between the employer and the employee, or set out in the relevant award or agreement.

A part time employee works less than 38 hours a week. These hours are usually regular hours each week.

A casual employee has no guaranteed hours of work and the hours can be irregular.

Annual leave

Full time and part time employees are entitled to four weeks paid leave per year. The amount of hours in those four weeks is calculated on a pro rata basis for part time employees.

Annual leave is cumulative and payable on termination. Some awards and agreements allow employees to cash out annual leave, but there are guidelines around this – so check first.

Casual employees are not entitled to annual leave and are paid a higher hourly rate to compensate for not getting leave benefits.

Personal/carer’s and compassionate leave

Full time employees are entitled to 10 days paid personal/carer’s leave as required. This is calculated as 10 days in total to be taken as either personal or carer’s leave. In addition, an extra 2 days of unpaid carer’s leave is available if the employee does not have personal leave accrued, as required.

Part time employees are entitled to paid personal/carer’s leave calculated on a pro rata amount based on the hours that they work. They are also entitled to an additional 2 days of unpaid carer’s leave as required.

It’s important to note that personal leave is cumulative but not payable on termination.

Casual employees are not entitled to paid personal/carer’s leave but are able to take 2 days of unpaid carer’s leave as required.

Full time and part time employees are entitled to 2 days of paid compassionate leave per occasion with casuals being able to take 2 days of unpaid compassionate leave per occasion.

The important thing to note here, is that the entitlement is 2 days per occasion, not 2 days per year.

Public Holidays

Full time and Part time employees who usually work on the day a public holiday falls are entitled to a paid day off except where reasonably requested to work.

Casual employees are not entitled to be paid for a day off on public holidays, even if they have regular ongoing work.

Notice of termination and redundancy pay

Full time and part time employees must give or receive notice to end their employment. This can be up to 5 weeks’ notice of termination and up to 16 weeks’ redundancy pay.

Casual employees can end employment without notice, unless notice is required as part of an agreement, award or employment contract.

Parental Leave

Full time and Part time employees are entitled to 12 months’ unpaid leave, plus a right to request an additional 12 months’ unpaid leave.

There is a common misconception that casuals are not entitled to unpaid parental leave, however if the casual employee is a “long term casual”, that is, they have worked regular hours for more than 12 months, then they are entitled.

Requests for flexible working arrangements

Full time, part time and “long term casuals” have the right to request flexible working arrangements.

This is available to employees who:

  • are the parent, or have responsibility for the care, of a child who is school aged or younger
  • are a carer
  • have a disability
  • are 55 or older
  • are experiencing family or domestic violence, or
  • provide care or support to a member of their household or immediate family who requires care and support because of family or domestic violence.

Businesses can only refuse these requests on reasonable business grounds.

Community Service Leave

All employee types, including casuals, can take community service leave for certain activities such as:

  • voluntary emergency management activities
  • jury duty

With the exception of jury duty, community service leave is unpaid.

Long Service Leave

Full time and part time employees are entitled to long service leave after a long period of working for the same employer.

Each state or territory has different laws and guidelines around Long Service Leave.

These laws set out:

  • how long an employee has to be working to get long service leave (eg. after 7 years)
  • how much long service leave the employee gets.
  • Whether or not long serving casuals are eligible for long service leave.

An important note however, is that state and territory laws around Long Service Leave do not apply to employees who are covered by a federal award or workplace agreement (individual or collective) where that award or agreement contains its own long service leave provisions. State and territory laws also do not apply to employees who have their long service entitlement provided by another act or regulation, such as workers in building and construction, who are covered by the CoINVEST scheme.

Fair Work Information Statement

All new employees, irrespective of employment type, must be given a copy of the Fair Work Information Statement before, or as soon as possible after, they start their new job.

The Statement provides new employees with information about their conditions of employment.

There are other types of employees not covered in this blog, such as contractors, fixed term and outworkers, who also get certain entitlements. For more tailored assistance about employee entitlements, give us a call at HR Gurus on 1300 959 560. Our team of straight talking HR experts would be happy to help provide further guidance on any people matters.

Written by resident HR Guru Jessy Warn.

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