Changes are coming for casual workers. Understand what's at stake and how it will affect you.

Breaking it down

So, what exactly are these proposed changes?

Many people rely on the work-life balance casual working offers them, and these proposed changes could tip that balance. We’re here to raise awareness around these changes so Aussies can decide if this works for them. Explore the impacts and let us know with a thumbs up or down whether you agree.

Casuals will become part-or full-time

Having a regular Friday or Saturday shift could no longer be allowed. So casual workers would be required to become permanent full-time or part-time.

Loss of casual loading

Permanent employees receive lower rates, in exchange for other benefits such as leave entitlements. That means losing the casual loading in becoming a permanent employee.

Set working days

Many casual workers would lose their ability to change their shifts or pick up extra shifts as they become permanent workers, impacting their income.

Work-life balance impacted

The proposed changes may affect your work-life balance, making it difficult to juggle studying, family or other responsibilities.

Less job security

Many businesses can’t afford to take on additional permanent employees. This could result in long-term casuals being let go.

Less opportunity

There won’t be as many casual jobs as the proposed changes mean businesses will be limited on offering casual work.

Walk in our shoes: real stories, real impact

We asked casual workers to share their stories about why casual working works for them. Read on to find out why Aussie workers in retail, hospitality, healthcare and education are concerned about the proposed changes.

Sara - Casual retail worker & student

Say hi to Sara, a casual retail worker and student

Say hi to Sara. She’s absolutely stacked studying a podiatry degree and relies on being able to pick up casual retail work when she doesn’t have much due, and dropping a few shifts when she’s got tests coming up. Sound familiar?

Stephie - Casual nurse & full time mum

Meet Stephie, a casual nurse and full time mum

Casual work helps Stephie pick up shifts at the hospital around her kids’ commitments. Having to go permanent would make it really hard for her to be the best mum she can.

Martina - Casual teacher & creative

This is Martina, a casual teacher and creative

Martina works casually as a teacher while juggling a few passion projects, so having to commit to part-time or full-time teaching would put a lot of pressure on her.

Austin - Casual Hospo & freelancer

Say hi to Austin, a casual hospo worker and freelancer

Austin's a freelance creative who picks up casual hospo shifts when he needs some extra cash. He can barely commit to a gym schedule let alone a permanent work schedule, so the proposed new rules would add a lot of stress to Austin’s life.

Nick - Casual retail worker

Meet Nick, a casual retail worker saving for a holiday

Nick’s saving for an overseas holiday and his higher hourly rate as a casual is helping him reach his goal quickly. Under the proposed new rules though, if he has to go part-time he’ll lose his casual loading, which means he won’t be able to save enough to travel this year.

Frequently asked questions

If you want more facts about the impacts to casual work, read our fact sheet here.

What is this proposed change about?

The government plans to change how a casual job is defined. That means if you work a regular shift, like a Friday or Saturday night, that could no longer be allowed as a casual job.  Someone working that regular shift would have to be a permanent employee which means no casual loading.

Why is casual work important?

Casual work provides critical job opportunities for hundreds of thousands of Australians who require flexibility in their work, such as students, parents, and carers and who prefer to receive a higher casual rate of pay rather than accrued leave and notice entitlements. It also supports business continuity, meets changing demands, and enhances Australia's reputation as a resilient and adaptable business environment.

What was the issue with casual work before 2021?

In 2021 the parliament passed legislation to make it clear who is a casual worker.  It also required employers to offer casual workers a full-time after 12 months.  The legislation provided clarity after a number of court cases, and confirmed the decision of the High Court on the definition.

What is the current status of casual work in Australia?

Casual work is a significant part of Australian employment, with around 23.5 per cent of Australians working casually. This option provides flexibility and usually around 25 per cent additional pay, making it essential for many, including retirees, students, carers, and parents.

I heard there is an increase in casualisation of jobs in Australia. Is it true?

No, that's not true. The proportion of Australians working casually has remained stable for more than 20 years. A lower proportion of Australians worked casually in August 2022 than August 2013 or August 1996.

What problems could arise from the proposed changes?

The proposed changes could force employers to limit the number of casual jobs they offer.  It will discourage casual employment and limit the ability of businesses to respond to changing needs.

What questions still need to be answered about the proposed changes?

It is very unclear how the new test is going to work, making it risky for businesses to hire casual workers. 

What might happen if the definition of casual work is changed?

If the definition is changed, it could recreate significant uncertainty and risk for both employers and casual employees. We could potentially see a return to the instability and confusion that prevailed prior to the 2021 changes. This may mean there is less casual work available, even if that’s what employees want.

What are the existing rights of casual workers?

Casual workers have rights to seek and be offered conversion to full or part-time employment in a range of circumstances under the National Employment Standards, and also under many awards and enterprise agreements. They also have the flexibility to refuse shifts and work when they want. They are usually paid a casual loading instead of accruing permanent entitlements.

What would be a better way forward instead of the proposed changes?

A better way forward would be to reinforce and raise awareness of existing conversion rights. This could be achieved through annual reminders for staff and by reviewing informational materials to ensure they effectively inform casual employees about their rights.