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Workplace 101: What are the different types of employment in Australia

Please note that this is general information & may not be relevant to your particular matter. This should not be taken as legal advice 


Different types of employment have different rights attached. Your employer should be clear about your type of employment; however, this does not always occur.

It is helpful to understand the difference between types to ensure you are receiving the correct entitlements and conditions by law. 

There are four main types of employment that are found in the workforce. These include:

  1. Permanent full-time (38 or more working hours per week)
  2. Permanent part-time (less than 38 working hours per week)
  3. Fixed term contract
  4. Casual (flexible working hours)

Permanent and casual workers have different entitlements. Casual workers are less likely to have regular hours each week and cannot be guaranteed a set number of hours of work. Whereas permanent workers receive the same number of hours each week. See below for further details on the different types of employment. 


1. Permanent full-time employees 

If you are working an average of 38 or more hours per week and/or have a signed contract (it is not a requirement to have a contract) you are a full-time employee.

With full-time employment, you are eligible for certain entitlements, minimum wages and conditions.

These include:

  • four weeks of annual leave each year (paid leave whilst having time off work)
  • 10 days of sick or carers leave.

Another entitlement for full-time workers is that their employers must provide them with written notice when they decide to end the employment. A condition of full-time employment for the employer is that there must be a set maximum number of hours worked by an employee per week and generally it is 38 hours or more. However, this will be different depending on the industry and what award the work falls under.

An example of this is a hairdresser working under the Hair and Beauty Industry Award 2020 (‘the Award’). In a salon where business hours are Tuesday to Saturday, full-time employees are often required to work Saturdays. Under the Award a hairdresser is entitled to two consecutive days off each week or three consecutive days off in a fortnight. This means if they work every second Saturday, they will get Sunday, Monday and Tuesday off while still being a full-time employee.


2. Permanent part-time employees 

A part-time employee will work less than 38 hours a week, where the hours are fixed each week and can be permanent or on a fixed-term contract.

The same benefits apply to part-time employees as they do to full-time employees but the amount of leave a part-time employee will be on a pro-rata basis.

This means that a part-time employee who works 19 hours per week will be entitled to 50% of a full-time employee, that is two weeks annual leave and 5 days personal leave per year. 



3. Fixed term contract employees

Another type of employment for full-time or part-time workers, is that they hired on a fixed-term contract, unlike full-time permanent employees where they are employed on an on-going basis.

An example of fixed-term contracts, is that an employee can be given a 6 or 12-month contract and after that time their employment will finish. An employee may be a receptionist at a business and they are hired on a fixed-term contract basis for 12 months, working full-time. The employment will end after 12-months unless a new contract is provided.

The same entitlements and benefits of a full-time permanent employee apply to a fixed-term contract employee, including sick leave, annual leave, and minimum wage entitlements. 



4. Casual employment

Casual employment is a type of employment that does not have a firm commitment to ongoing work.

Casual employees will not have set days or hours of work per week, as it changes to suit the employer’s needs.

If a casual work job offer has been made and the terms say it will not continue indefinitely and the offer is accepted by an employee knowing of the no advance commitment, it is likely to be a casual employment position.

Some indications that your employment is casual:

  • the employer will choose to offer work and the employee can refuse, change or swap shifts if it does not suit
  • casual employees get paid a casual loading, which is a higher pay rate.

An example of a casual worker could be a hospitality worker at a restaurant. You are likely to be rostered a different number of shifts per week depending how busy the restaurant is. The employer of the restaurant will take down your availability of what days you can work each week and then you will be rostered on those days for the hours the employer chooses. 

Entitlements of casual employment are found under the National Employment Standards;

  • 2 days unpaid carer’s leave
  • 2 days unpaid compassionate leave per occasion
  • 5 days unpaid family and domestic violence leave (in a 12-month period) 
  • Unpaid community service leave.


Is it possible to change from having casual employment to being a permanent part-time or permanent full-time employee?

Casual conversion is the process of an employee converting their employment to be a part-time or full-time employee.

For more information on this, please see our fact sheet on:


“Sham contracting” – when independent contractors are actually employees

In some cases, a business may engage you as an independent contractor when in fact you are an employee. This can be classified as “sham contracting.”

Businesses often do this to evade paying superannuation, base award rates, casual loadings or weekend penalty rates.

There are many factors that are considered to decide if you are a true independent contractor or in a sham contracting arrangement.

An example of “sham contracting” may be a cleaner hired by a cleaning business for cleaning duties but they are told they an independent contractor under a contract. The general rights of an independent contractor are they can negotiate their own fees/rate of pay and can negotiate their own working arrangements for hours they work. Often they would have their own cleaning business and have multiple places they clean at. However, it may be a sham contract if the employer decides the pay, where the person works and what hours they do, etc.

This can be a complicated legal matter and if you are in this situation please contact us for legal advice on your specific circumstances.

For more information on Sham Contracting, please see our fact sheet on: 

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