Part-time, casual & short-term work


Part-time, casual and short-term workers are a big chunk of employees in Australia. But what's the difference between part-time, casual or short-term employment?

Topics on this page include:

> Definition of part-time work
> Definition of casual work
> Why do part-time or casual work?
> Short-term contract work
> Pay and conditions
> How to find part-time, casual or short-term work
> Links

Definition of part-time work

A part-time job employs you for less than a full working week (i.e., for less than 38 hours a week).

A job that you work only Mondays and Thursdays is considered part-time. So is a job you work only from 9am-1pm Monday to Friday.

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Definition of casual work

A casual job is a job with no guaranteed hours of work. Casual employees work the hours their employers require. This is usually set out on a list called a "roster". A roster shows the times and dates you're expected to work (these are called "shifts"), and how long you're expected to work for each shift.

The hours you work as a casual can vary from week to week, depending on the job and changes to the roster. One week you might work on Saturday and Sunday, the next only Saturday, and the next you might work Monday and Thursday.

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Why do part-time or casual work?

People do part-time and casual work for lots of reasons, including:

  • unavailability of full-time jobs
  • gaining experience
  • having spare time during school holidays 
  • opening doors for a full-time job 
  • needing money while studying 
  • trying out a job before pursuing it as a career
  • paying the bills while following another career or interest (like art or music)
  • being unable to work full-time.

A benefit of casual work - but NOT part-time work - is that the hourly rate of pay is often higher than full-time workers doing the same job. The reason casual rates are higher is because casual employees don't have as many benefits as full-time employees (see "Pay and conditions", below).

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Short-term contract work

Short-term contract jobs have a definite end date. The length of the contract is specified in the contract itself. Short-term or contract jobs could last for one month, three months or even twelve months.

The hours of work you do as part of a short-term contract could be full-time, part-time or casual, but once the contract ends, so does your job.

Some people do short-term jobs because they don't want to be stuck in the same job for a long time.

If you're thinking of returning to study or travelling in the near future, taking on a short-term job is a good option to avoid having to resign a few weeks or months after you start.

Taking on a short-term contract is a good stepping stone towards finding full-time work. It helps you expand your networks and tap into the hidden job market.

Sometimes you might be offered a new contract when your existing contract ends, but other times your work finishes with the end of the contract.

To find out more about contracts, check out our Employment contracts page.

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Pay and conditions for part-time and casual workers

Generally speaking, part-time workers receive the same pay rates and conditions as full-time workers in the same job. They just work less hours and so earn less money per week. 

Casual work (and sometimes short-term contract work) usually pays more than full-time or part-time work. However, there are trade-offs. Casual and contract workers often don't get:

  • sick leave 
  • public holiday pay
  • annual leave.

Make sure you know what entitlements are (and aren't) provided by your employer before signing a contract. Check out our Employment rights section for more information about contracts, payments and other employee rights.

For more about employee rights, visit these pages on Youth Central:

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How to find part-time, casual or short-term work

Visit our How to find a job pages for tips and advice on finding work, including tapping into the hidden job market, using your networks, finding jobs online and cold calling. 

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Types of Employees
The Fair Work Ombudsman's overview of the rights and entitlements of employees, including part-time, casual and full-time workers.

Australian Unions - Casual Workers
Some good advice on your rights as a casual and what you can do if you need help.

JobWatch - Casual Employment
General information about the rights and entitlements of casual workers.

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