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Extra hands on demand: The differences between casual and temp staff

Sleeping in, skipping the work commute and eating too much – there’s a lot to love about the festive holiday period. But for retailers and hospitality businesses based in holiday destinations, there is a whole other reason to love it – it’s the most profitable time of the year.

Small business owners who want to take their share of the spending will likely need extra staff to meet demand. But there is more than one way to hire temporary staff. So how can businesses hire the right sort of help while keeping up with compliance requirements?

Hiring temps or casuals?

Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland (CCIQ) spokesperson, Dan Petrie, says businesses must ensure they engage staff under the correct industrial relations framework.

“You’ve got to do it properly,” he says, which means open and honest discussions about the job are critical.

“Maintain a clear line of communication about what the role will be,” he says.

“If it’s a temporary role, explain why. Always have that conversation clearly and articulately in the first instance.”

What is a ‘temporary’ or fixed-term worker?

Australia’s Fair Work Ombudsman describes fixed-term employees as contract employees who perform a role for a specific time period or task, who are usually engaged on a full-time or part-time basis.

Under those contracts, the workers are entitled to equivalent wages, holidays and penalties as permanent employees, often underpinned by an industrial relations award.

Employsure Senior Employment Relations Adviser, Michael Wilkinson, says the term “temp” is often used colloquially in Australia for casual employees, fixed-term employees and contractors from labour hire companies.

But he says businesses should make sure they know what hiring structure is best for them.

“A fixed-term contract in Australia is for a set duration or period of time, for a specified task, or for the duration of a specified season,” he says.

“Depending on how you structure the contract, it will give workers different rights. With a true fixed-term contract in Australia, when it ends for a genuine reason, there is no unfair dismissal and you don’t have to provide notice.”

What is a casual worker?

The Fair Work Ombudsman says casuals have no commitments in advance from their employer about their shifts or hours.

They do not receive sick leave or holiday pay and there is no notice required for the business to end the agreement.

But in return casuals have a higher rate of pay, generally 125% of the hourly rate.

They are also entitled to some carer’s leave and may have the option to request a permanent role after a 12-month period.

Making sure you’re compliant

CCIQ’s Petrie says hiring workers is an ongoing challenge for small business owners.

“Our members tell us one of the hardest things they do is negotiating the ‘casual challenge’ and establishing if they want a temp for only a finite amount of time,” he says.

He says the best way to engage staff is with the intention of creating an ongoing role. “If you get someone good, you want to hang onto them,” he says.

Choosing what’s right for your small business

Employsure’s Wilkinson says employers need to revise their staffing needs to make sure they’re committing the right resources at the right time.

If work flows are unpredictable, a casual worker can offer flexibility to fill gaps.

But if there’s a known demand at a certain time then fixed-term workers can help to reduce costs.

“There are always trade-offs,” he says.

As the retail and hospitality end of year high season approaches, Wilkinson says businesses should recruit and train additional staff now to make the most of the opportunity. In fact, recruiters recommend starting recruitment drives in October or early November. But sooner is better than later.

“If you have your staff trained up, it means they hit the ground running when the money is actually there,” he says.

Need to ramp up your staff numbers ahead of the summer season? Talk to Prospa about how a business line of credit can help provide cash flow support for short-term hire needs.

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The information in this post is provided for general information only and does not take into account your personal situation. Nothing contained in this post constitutes advice or an endorsement or recommendation of any kind by Prospa. Any links to third party websites are strictly for informational purposes only. You should consider whether the information is appropriate to your needs, and where appropriate, seek professional advice from financial, legal and taxation advisors. Although every effort has been made to verify the accuracy of the information as at the date of publication, Prospa, its officers, employees and agents disclaim all liability (except for any liability which by law cannot be excluded), for any error, inaccuracy, or omission from the information for any reason, including due to the passage of time, or any loss or damage suffered by any person directly or indirectly through relying on this information.

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